Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
thesis_access.pdf (3.93 MB)

Contextualising information behaviour: The example of Laos

Download (3.93 MB)
posted on 2021-11-14, 00:58 authored by Gaston, Nicole Marie

The ways in which people need, seek, and use information vary considerably from one context to another. This thesis reports on a qualitative study investigating the contextual factors affecting information behaviour in a developing country. The literature review revealed that cultural and social factors have a significant impact on cognition and information behaviour, yet contextualised understandings of information behaviour that take diverse local conditions into account have yet to be developed for non-Western, developing country contexts. An interpretivist research design was employed in this study, using Dervin’s sense-making methodology, the critical incident technique, and discourse analysis to collect, analyse and interpret interview data on everyday information behaviour from 30 participants in Laos.  The primary objective of the research was to identify the contextual factors that affect information behaviour in Laos, and to understand how contextual factors influence how people need, seek, manage and use information. The findings indicated that a number of interdependent primary and secondary contextual factors play a key role in how people engage with information in Laos. Primary factors included the social and cultural contexts of an individual, with numerous secondary factors such as personal, situational, physical, and economic contexts also playing a role in information behaviour. The interpretation of the findings enabled the development of a contextualised understanding of information behaviour for individuals in Laos. In addition, the research methods provided a framework from which contextualised understandings of information behaviour in diverse local contexts can be explored, fulfilling a secondary objective of the research. These findings have implications for information professionals, information systems design, and international aid projects, by providing contextualised understandings of information behaviour, facilitating the development of more relevant services and resources.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Information Studies

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

970108 Expanding Knowledhe in the Information and Computing Sciences

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Doctoral Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Information Management


Dorner, Daniel; Johnstone, David