Task and social information seeking: Whom do we prefer and whom do we approach?

Yunjie Xu, Hee Woong Kim, Atreyi Kankanhalli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Citations (Scopus)


Employee information-seeking behavior shapes the formation of organizational communication networks and affects performance. However, it is not easy to facilitate, particularly through information technology, and its motivations are not well understood. Recognizing two broad categories of information-that is, task and social information-this study investigates and compares the antecedents of task and social information seeking. Deriving from the relational communication perspective, informational and relational motivations are modeled as the two main antecedents of source preference and sourcing frequency in dyadic information seeking. Through a survey of employee dyads, our findings indicate that perceived information relevance is a significant antecedent of source preference for both task and social information seeking, whereas perceived relational benefit is significant in the context of task information. The results also show that perceived relational benefit has a stronger effect on source preference in task information seeking than in social information seeking. Furthermore, preference for a source is a significant antecedent of the frequency of sourcing in both contexts. This study provides an explanation of the formation of organizational communication networks. It suggests that organizational information and communication technologies not only need to support information delivery but must also facilitate relationship management for the seeker.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)211-240
Number of pages30
JournalJournal of Management Information Systems
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2010 Jan 1

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments: this research was supported by National university of Singapore, research grants r253-000-057-112 and r253-000-063-646.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Management Information Systems
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Management Science and Operations Research
  • Information Systems and Management


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