Using the Notion of ‘Information Flow’ to Investigate Why a Signal May Stand Differently for Individuals

Rashmi Mantri, Junkang Feng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Studies over past century show that the organisations profoundly rely on signs (signals in general) and norms to operate. Information systems may be seen as systems of signs. Signs are indispensible part of norms, which people follow in order to act in an organisation. A signal or sign may convey different messages to different agents. If we eliminate merely subjective interpretations, which could be wrong from the receiver’s perspective, it must be the case that for such a phenomenon to happen the signal does carry different information for different individuals in the sense of actually informing them. We explore how this is possible in this paper. We observe that information theory and semiotics are strongly related. Therefore, rationally linking organisational semiotics and information theory in some way would be beneficial and highly desirable. Our approach is based upon semantic information and information flow theories put forward by Dretske, Barwise and Seligman along with basic notions of Stamper’s organisational semiotics, i.e. sign and norms and Devlin’s constraints. We exploit an S-B-R (information source (S) - information bearer (B) - information receiver(R)) framework, which incorporate the above mentioned theories to examine information creation, flow and receiving. We put forward the phenomena of information nesting, norms with which a signal or sign is involved and co-existing multiple S-B-R structures to elucidate this fact.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)317-325
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2010


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