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The Value of Public Sector Data and Information to Civil Society Organizations in South Africa: Evidence from the Fight to Alleviate Poverty

Presenter 1
Raed Sharif
School of Information Studies, Syracuse University

Public sector data and information (PSDI) are considered by many to be a strategic resource, potentially needed at all levels of society, by different communities. This presentation reports on the preliminary findings of an investigation of the ways in which these resources are utilized by the South African Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) to increase their effectiveness and add value to their efforts to alleviate poverty. The study draws upon literature from organizational studies and information policy. The concepts of value of information (Parker & Houghton, 1994), management of external information (Sammons, 2005), absorptive capacity (Cohen & Levinthal, 1990), organizational learning (Argyris & Schön, 1978), and organizational innovation (March & Simons, 1958) are used to guide my inquiry to demonstrate the value of PSDI to South African CSOs through describing and explaining the processes to identify, acquire (including factors that facilitate or hinder access and acquisition), assimilate, and exploit this strategic resource. It is expected that the discussions and findings of this study will have theoretical and policy contributions, and will be of special importance to the government of South Africa (and hopefully governments in other developing countries), the CSOs fighting against poverty, and subsequently to the people of South Africa.

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