Guidelines for enhanced Intranet use : a study of dissemination of information to field workers within municipalities

University dissertation from Department of Computer & Systems Sciences, Stockholm University

Abstract: The development and use of new technology enables our society and organizations to disseminate information very quickly. Citizens in the industrialized world have access to information using the World Wide Web and organizations can provide both customers and employees with information using intranets. This thesis investigates how municipalities disseminate information to employees using intranets or traditional communication channels such as telephone, mail, paper handouts and weekly-letters.Municipalities are good examples of organizations that have employees with limited access to technology and where a considerable number of the employees are working out in the field and do not have access to an intranet and its content during their daily work. The municipalities in Sweden implement intranets to disseminate information with the purpose of efficient communication with everyone in the organization simultaneously and to promote cooperation between various departments.A study of 10 municipalities in Sweden focusing on the dissemination of information through intranets is presented. Previous research shows that the content must be relevant, fill a need and add a value for the users otherwise the motivation for using it is lost. Therefore, an investigation of the publishing process and the routines of the information provider have been carried out with the purpose of determining how the intranets can be designed to satisfy these requirements. The most important question is how the users actually use an intranet when they have limited access to technical resources. To answer this question users have been interviewed to investigate their motivation, attitude and the information need in relation to dissemination. During the investigation three municipality employees were interviewed, the information provider, the middle-managers and the field workers. The interviews have focused on the following themes; the user's satisfaction, the content of the information, the information strategies, the available and used communication channels and finally the knowledge and awareness possessed by the actors regarding the potentials of the intranet.The results of the study will be presented as recommendations for municipalities and other organizations with a similar structure. The usefulness and the relevance of the guidelines were established through evaluation with the participating actors. The guidelines will support the organizations and dissemination of information to field workers in public organizations. They will also raise awareness and support the potentials of the intranet with regards to communication opportunities, discussion forums and sharing of experiences between departments.

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