From the Editors: Information, Attention, and Decision Making

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Management Papers
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Van Knippenberg, Daan
Dahlander, Linus
Haas, Martine R
George, Gerard

More than five decades after the seminal works on how individuals process information and make decisions within organizations were published (Cyert & March, 1963; Simon, 1957), the thesis that individuals, groups, and organizations are bounded in their rationality and ability to attend to information continues to remain salient. Individuals and organizations display cognitive and motivational biases, both in their attention to information and in their decisions based on that information (De Dreu, Nijstad, & van Knippenberg, 2008; Ocasio, 2011; Tversky & Kahneman, 1974). The nature and volume of information, and managers' behaviors in seeking and using information, have undergone massive transformation over these past 50 years, which have seen the emergence of electronics, computers, and the Internet. Advances in information technology, mobile communications, and big data collection and storage mean that more people and firms have access to more information than ever before (George, Haas, & Pentland, 2014; Hilbert & Lopez, 2011). Yet, our frameworks of attention and decision making have not seen corresponding radical shifts. Perhaps, the underlying processes of decision making remain the same despite the transformative change in context. Alternatively, it is plausible that our theoretical advances have not matched the speed of change in information contexts confronted by businesses and policymakers alike. The growing ubiquity of information provides unprecedented opportunities—for learning, creativity , and innovation, as well as for performance. Understanding how to leverage these possibilities becomes an important challenge for management research and practice. However, the abundance of information also implies increasing competition for the attention of individuals, groups, and organizations ; increasing potential for information overload to fuel biases in decision making; increasing costs of collecting, storing, and sharing information ; and an increasing risk that all this information becomes a distraction from more relevant information or indeed from the job itself. Thus, a key challenge in the information age is to manage this wealth of available information and channel it to productive ends. In this thematic issue, we explore how management in the information age potentially differs and challenges our existing theoretical frameworks and assumptions. We assembled articles that address the rapidly evolving opportunities and challenges of managing in this new information-rich context. These articles are motivated by emergent themes and trends that set the stage for current and future scholarly research on information, attention, and decision making. We follow a brief analysis of these articles with potential directions for future research and highlight broader pastures where systematic research could further improve our understanding of how we live and work in the information age.

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Academy of Management Journal
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