Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Legacy Department


Committee Chair/Advisor

Grover, Varun

Committee Member

Zagencyzk , Thomas J

Committee Member

Moore , Dewayne


In a world where 'Google' is a verb, this research asks the question 'what influences an individual's decision to select one information source over another?' Previous works have discussed relational versus nonrelational information sources (Rulke, Zaheer, & Anderson, 2000). Other research focuses on the information quality (O'Reilly, 1982), source accessibility (Culnan, 1984, 1985), or source richness (Daft, Lengel, & Trevino, 1987; Daft & Macintosh, 1981) but all these prior works do not address the social aspects of information sources.
This research defines and develops the construct of relationalism which is reflective of the social aspects of information sources. An important argument put forth in this work is that individuals will interact differently with a source based on its relationalism. Communication literature suggests that an individual will respond socially to another's social invitation even if the 'other' is actually an inanimate object (Nass & Moon, 2000). For example, individuals responded to social cues given by a robot no differently than the same social cues from a three-year-old child.
To investigate source selection this research uses two experiments and a survey. The experimental approach allows for a high level of control over the task design and other extraneous influences. The survey methodology utilizes knowledge workers in business organizations, and examines the profiles of sources used in a realistic work setting. While the experimental design improves the internal validity of the model, the survey approach allows for a superior assessment of the external validity. Such methodological triangulation provides for a robust testing of the model and greater confidence in its emerging prescriptions.
The first experiment investigates the antecedents to relationalism. Objective design characteristics were found to be positively related to relationalism. Furthermore a socially oriented factor was also related to relationalism. The second experiment investigated the relationship between relationalism and source selection. This experiment also included task effects and controlled for personality variables. The relationship between relationalism and source selection depended on the nature of the task with more complex tasks indicating a stronger preference for higher relationalism sources. The findings from the survey of knowledge workers largely corroborated the findings from the experiments though some differences were seen.
From the experimental and survey results implications for research and practice are developed. Further this research contributes to a deeper understanding of information source selection in a modern IT-enabled environment.



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