Mix of Contextual Information

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Mix of Contextual Information

Mix of Contextual Information

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information that is aggregated, externally oriented, and more subjective than supervisors require. The information needs of middle managers in terms of these characteristics fall between the needs of supervisors and of senior management. Because information needs vary across levels, a daily inventory report of a large manufacturing firm may serve as information for a low‐level inventory manager whereas the CEO would consider such a report to be merely data. The context in which the report is used must be considered in determining whether it is information.

Knowledge is information that is synthesized and contextualized to provide value. It is information with the most value. Knowledge consists of a mix of contextual information, values, experiences, and rules. For example, the mashup of locations and housing prices means one thing to a real estate agent, another thing to a potential buyer, and yet something else to an economist. It is richer and deeper than information and more valuable because someone thought deeply about that information and added his or her own unique experience and judgment. Knowledge also involves the synthesis of multiple sources of information over time.7 The amount of human contribution increases along the continuum from data to information to knowledge. Computers work well for managing data but are less efficient at managing information and knowledge.

Some people think there is a fourth level in the information hierarchy: wisdom. Wisdom is knowledge fused with intuition and judgment that facilitates the ability to make decisions. Wisdom is that level of the information hierarchy used by subject matter experts, gurus, and individuals with a high degree of experience who seem to “just know” what to do and how to apply the knowledge they gain. This is consistent with Aristotle’s view of wisdom as the ability to balance different and conflicting elements together in ways that are only learned through experience.


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