Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
This exploratory research was designed to study the effect of an attempt to control the flow of information through the imposition of a statute, the Ontario Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, 1987 (which came into effect in January of 1988). The hypotheses tested dealt with the effect of the statute in terms of (1) its implementation by the management of organizations on which it is imposed (including its effect on organization structure); (2) its adoption by the employees of those organizations; and (3) the impact on information flow within the organizations (both direction of flow and the impact on formal and informal channels of communication). Comprehensive case studies of eight organizations subject to the Ontario Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, 1987 were completed. The independent variables operationalized in the research design were the type of organization (whether ministry or crown corporation), size (whether large or small) and public profile (whether much in the news, or little in the public eye). Interviews and questionnaires were used in each organization to gather information from (1) the "heads" of the organizations, (2) the information and privacy Coordinators (whose positions have been created as a reflection of the implementation efforts of the government) and (3) a sampling of employees throughout six of the eight organizations. The study found that the pattern of the measures of adoption in the organizations closely reflected the pattern of level of implementation effort in the eight cases. The type of organization was the most reliable indicator of differences in the levels of adoption in the organizations, with the ministries consistently surpassing the crown corporations. The statute had not had anything more than a very minor impact on organization structure. Nor did it appear that the directions of information flow had been dramatically affected in the organizations. In some, indeed, there had been no change. In others, the evidence tended to suggest that the changes appeared to be as much in the channels of communication being used as in direction. All the organizations studied seemed to be concentrating on reactive measures in their handling of this new legislative requirement. In only one organization, the small, low profile ministry, did there appear to be any real indication of proactive implementation. Employees at this organization also surpassed their colleagues in the other organizations in terms of adoption indicators. The study is important because it demonstrates a new perspective on information policy research, within an information process model capable of providing the framework for empirical measurement of the complex and largely mysterious phenomenon of information.
Wilkinson, Margaret Ann, "Impact Of The Ontario "freedom Of Information And Protection Of Privacy Act 1987" Upon Affected Organizations" (1992). Digitized Theses. 2134.