Dissertation Information for Catherine Collins
MPACT Status: Fully Complete
Title: Knowledge and information sharing: A multiple-case study of the information culture of the British Columbia salmon fishery
Abstract: This exploratory research borrows a conceptual framework from the field of knowledge management to guide an investigation of the information culture of the British Columbia salmon fishery. In order to develop a broad overview of this information culture, the research looks at: (1) how local ecological knowledge and information are shared within and across sector boundaries, (2) attitudes toward the process of sharing, and (3) attitudes toward the shared knowledge. Since the 1980s, a few biologists and social scientists have attempted to increase awareness of the overlooked and undervalued local ecological knowledge (LEK) of fish harvesters. How knowledge is shared from a variety of provenances has also been a crucial focus for knowledge management. One of the major challenges for knowledge management is to reduce barriers to and improve mechanisms for the transfer of knowledge and information between individuals, groups, and organizations. Researchers in both domains have identified several categories of mechanisms for or barriers to the integration of practitioner knowledge into management planning and decision making: cultural factors; technological factors; structural factors; power asymmetries, political, and ethical considerations; funding concerns; and legal requirements. A qualitative multiple-case study design was used to elicit information about knowledge sharing practices, and attitudes about sharing and shared knowledge. Semi-structured interviews of 36 participants in the commercial, native, and recreational fishery sectors, as well as scientific researchers and fishery managers, were transcribed and served as the primary data sources. Data analysis included data reduction techniques for identifying patterns and themes, first within each case, and subsequently through making comparisons across cases. The results indicate that questions directed at information behaviors and values can result in a rich description of an information culture. Specifically, the primary findings show: (1) vastly differing levels of capacity for sharing knowledge and utilizing shared knowledge, (2) deep concern about power asymmetries resulting from economic and political shifts in British Columbia, and (3) a range of formal and informal methods for communication and knowledge sharing.
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