The information gap is a shortage of information understood as the difference between the information set and the set of necessary information used to create a detailed description of a given decision problem. The information gap may be the result of errors that have been committed in the management process (for example: excessive centralization of decisions, lack of databases storing information or inefficient employees). Another reason for the creation of such a gap may also be the type and nature of the decision problem (for example: conflict decisions, strategic decisions or decisions taken under time pressure).
At present, the majority of enterprises increase the number and complexity of tasks related to the implementation of operational activities. This phenomenon is connected with the necessity of having and generating a lot of information necessary to satisfy the needs of the company's operations. The significance of the information held must be taken into account in company management and when creating information systems supported by computer technologies.
The information gap may also affect the demand for more current or more detailed information than those currently available to enterprises. Another situation is the need to access information that has not been collected so far. The information gap may also concern the demand for information related to the future of the enterprise as well as its environment (it is forecast needs).
The phenomenon of the information gap is also related to the occurrence of dissonance between the recipient and the sender of the message. This situation consists in the recipient disregarding information that is inconsistent with his beliefs (for example: a person who smokes cigarettes ignores information about the harmfulness of smoking tobacco products).
Due to the type of information gap, you can characterize:
- information hope gap - occurs when the recipient of the message receives incomplete information that does not give the opportunity to take the required actions. The recipient hopes to supplement the message by the sender.
- information discrepancy gap - occurs when the recipient does not agree with some or all of the transmitted message and does not use it when making decision-making.
Features of the information gap
- it is always a vulnerability - it means that the vulnerability is related to a specific user and the problem he solves. It is the information user who should determine his information needs and their quality.
- is variable in time - time affects both the conditions and content of the solution to a given problem, but also changes the resources of the user's knowledge, which affects his needs related to specific information
- the set of information needed to solve the task (which the user does not yet have) is fuzzy - this means that only in exceptional situations can the type of information needed to solve the problem be determined. Usually different information is needed to varying degrees.
Methods of minimizing the information gap
The main and, at the same time, the most important methods of minimizing the information gap can include:
- optimization of the organizational structure - it is aimed at slimming the structure in a given organization and striving to replace hierarchical structures in favor of flat structures. Optimization allows to improve the functioning of modern organizations and improve the quality of information flow in the enterprise.
- streamlining business processes - redesigning business processes affects the improvement of various performance indicators, including quality, costs or speed of information flow.
- the use of ICTs - the ability to obtain information from various types of IT systems, affects the ability to effectively manage the enterprise and minimize the information gap.
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- Nakahama, Y., Tyler, A., & Van Lier, L. (2001). Negotiation of meaning in conversational and information gap activities: A comparative discourse analysis. TESOL quarterly, 35(3), 377-405.