Assessing organizational information visibility: Development and validation of the information visibility scale

Claartje ter Hoeven, C Stohl, P Leonardi, M Stohl

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Abstract

A common observation in the digital age is that new technologies are making people’s behaviors, decisions, and preferences more visible. For scholars who study organizations and their effects upon society, increased information visibility raises the hope that organizations might become more transparent. Typically, we assume that increased information visibility will translate into high levels of organizational transparency, but we lack empirical evidence to support this assumption. Our ability to gather data on this important topic is limited because there have been few reliable ways to assess organizational information visibility. To remedy this problem, we develop and validate the Information Visibility Scale to measure the core aspects of information visibility. We then employ the scale to test the relationship between information visibility and transparency. We discuss the theoretical and practical implications of the scale and consider the limitations and further research possibilities that the scale construction and validation suggest.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)895-927
JournalCommunication Research (print)
Volume48
Issue number6
Early online date14 Oct 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to thank Scott Banghart and Mikkel Flyverbom for their helpful thoughts and comments on earlier versions of this paper. Furthermore, we are grateful for the hospitality of the Center for Information Technology and Society (cits.ucsb.edu) that provided the opportunity for an extensive research visit, during which this study was conducted. We also like to thank the attendees of the ?Visibility and Hiddenness in Organizing Context? session at the 68th Annual Conference of the International Communication Association (ICA) for their constructive feedback. The authors disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This work was supported by The Netherlands Organization of Scientific Research under Grant 451-13-012.

Funding Information:
https://orcid.org/0000-0003-1572-0652 ter Hoeven Claartje L. 1 2 Stohl Cynthia 3 Leonardi Paul 3 Stohl Michael 3 1 Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands 2 University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands 3 University of California, Santa Barbara, USA Claartje L. ter Hoeven, Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences, Erasmus University Rotterdam, Burgemeester Oudlaan 50, 3062 PA Rotterdam, The Netherlands. Email: c.l.terhoeven@uva.nl 10 2019 0093650219877093 © The Author(s) 2019 2019 SAGE Publications This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 License ( http://www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ ) which permits non-commercial use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access pages ( https://us.sagepub.com/en-us/nam/open-access-at-sage ). A common observation in the digital age is that new technologies are making people’s behaviors, decisions, and preferences more visible. For scholars who study organizations and their effects upon society, increased information visibility raises the hope that organizations might become more transparent. Typically, we assume that increased information visibility will translate into high levels of organizational transparency, but we lack empirical evidence to support this assumption. Our ability to gather data on this important topic is limited because there have been few reliable ways to assess organizational information visibility. To remedy this problem, we develop and validate the Information Visibility Scale to measure the core aspects of information visibility. We then employ the scale to test the relationship between information visibility and transparency. We discuss the theoretical and practical implications of the scale and consider the limitations and further research possibilities that the scale construction and validation suggest. organizational information visibility scale development transparency organizational communication Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek https://doi.org/10.13039/501100003246 451-13-012 edited-state corrected-proof The authors would like to thank Scott Banghart and Mikkel Flyverbom for their helpful thoughts and comments on earlier versions of this paper. Furthermore, we are grateful for the hospitality of the Center for Information Technology and Society ( cits.ucsb.edu ) that provided the opportunity for an extensive research visit, during which this study was conducted. We also like to thank the attendees of the “Visibility and Hiddenness in Organizing Context” session at the 68th Annual Conference of the International Communication Association (ICA) for their constructive feedback. Declaration of Conflicting Interests The authors declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article. Funding The authors disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This work was supported by The Netherlands Organization of Scientific Research under Grant 451-13-012. ORCID iD Claartje L. ter Hoeven https://orcid.org/0000-0003-1572-0652

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2019.

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