As we design and construct new technologies to expand and transform global information infrastructures, we will undoubtedly face new challenges, but we can also expect to encounter some of the same problems that have shaped and constrained existing information technologies.Many of these challenges are technological. Others are environmental or organizational in nature. The study that we describe in this paper is designed to examine one particular information technology--online information resources. We focus on the ways in which people within organizations use these services in their day-to-day work, and we examine the roles that these resources play in the routine activities which mediate interorganizational relationships. Online information (OI) resources have been part of the information infrastructure since the early 1970's. They are curated collections of indexed electronic databases with supporting distribution services. Online service vendors have traditionally provided fee-for-service modem access to mainframes containing these databases of strategic business, scientific, legal and financial information. Initially, the services were entirely text-based. Now, most OI service providers supplement their mainframe offerings with GUI-enhanced CD-ROM products. They have also begun to provide additional access points via consumer utilities like CompuServe and America OnLine, and the World Wide Web. Systematic studies of commercial uses of OI resources show that particular institutions, such as the legal, financial and biotechnology communities, use OI resources much more than other institutions. And particular ways of using OI resources, such as via information centers and intermediaries, seem to be more common than others. However, we have found in our prior research that conceptions of OI resource usability and usage patterns, which characterize OI resource use as intensive, direct and non-intermediated, do not match observed use; and pressures to conform to these expectations rather than the actualities are perceived, by OIresource providers and information specialist intermediaries, to be increasing. Without an adequate understanding of successful current use, significant modification of those patterns is likely to prove difficult, unnecessary, counter-productive, or all of the above. In order to develop a better understanding of successful current use, we have begun an interpretive study of the ways in which OI resources are used, when they are used, how intensively they are used and by whom. This study will help to identify how organizations make use of OI resources. It will extend our understanding of information resource usage within the domain of networked technologies, as we describe and examine the interorganizational relationships which involve the use of these resources
Lamb, Roberta and Kling, Rob, "Online Information Resource Mediation of Interorganizational RelationshipsA Work-In-Progress Technical Research Synopsis" (1995). AMCIS 1995 Proceedings. 129.