The Inquiring Organization:

How organizations acquire knowledge and seek information

A monograph by Chun Wei Choo, published by Oxford University Press in January 2016. For a detailed description, see the book's OUP page or read the full text online in Oxford Scholarship Online.

Reviews and endorsements

The book is reviewed in Information Research by Prof. Elena Maceviciute of the University of Borås. For a practitioner perspective, see the blog posts by Martin White in CMS Wire and Intranet Focus.

"One more time, Professor Choo offers a unique and ground breaking analysis of the nature of human organization and information behaviour. Mastering more than ever the art of weaving concepts, theories and models from various disciplines into a fascinating text, Choo provides a completely innovative discussion aimed at understanding how and why organizations acquire knowledge, and seek and use information. The book should become indispensable and a must-read for anyone seriously interested in studying organizations in the age of the Internet. It brings a totally new and much-needed modern perspective of organizations that will challenge well-established approaches in organizational theory and information science." France Bouthillier, Associate Dean, Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, McGill University

"Choo's The Inquiring Organization is a monumental achievement. This book should be required reading in fields such as organizational behavior, library and information science, organizational communication, knowledge management, and information systems." Ronald E. Rice, Arthur N. Rupe Professor in the Social Effects of Mass Communication, University of California, Santa Barbara

"Chun Wei Choo's new book is a well-grounded theoretical text that will also benefit the organizational practices of information management and use. The Inquiring Organization will be an essential text for any teaching programme in information management and for courses on organizational information behaviour, but it should also be read by any organizational manager concerned with ensuring that organizational decisions at any level are well-founded." T.D. Wilson, Senior Professor, University of Borås, Sweden

"In The Inquiring Organization, Choo raises the critical question of how information is transformed into knowledge to support organizational learning. The book brings together theories of information and organizational behavior with pragmatic, social, and value-driven information-seeking and knowledge acquisition to provide a comprehensive framework for understanding and improving inquiring organizations. This important book comes at a critical time in the development of organizational theory and is highly recommended for those concerned with organizational sense-making, knowledge creation, and decision making." Carol C. Kuhlthau, Professor Emerita, Department of Library and Information Science, Rutgers University

"A remarkable achievement and enjoyable reading for scholars in organizational communication, knowledge management, information systems, and organizational behavior." International Journal of Communication

"The amount of intellectual effort put into the book is remarkable...I am quite sure that many young and senior researchers may find a way out of a creative block that many of us run into from time to time or a brilliant idea for a project while reading this monograph." Information Research

Google books preview


Chapter 1. Knowledge and information in organizational learning: An introduction

  1. Towards a normative view of organizational knowing

  2. Scope and objective of the book

  3. Overview of book chapters

  4. Coda


Chapter 2. Justifying belief: The pyramid, the raft, and the crossword puzzle

  1. Standard view of knowledge as justified true belief

  2. Foundationalism

  3. Foundationalism and organizational learning

  4. Coherentism

  5. Coherentism and organizational learning

  6. The pyramid and the raft

  7. A third metaphor: The crossword puzzle

  8. Synthesis

Chapter 3. Pragmatist views of knowledge: Knowledge as communal inquiry

  1. Knowledge as process of inquiry

  2. Theory of knowledge as theory of inquiry

  3. Community of Inquiry

  4. Hull-House Settlement as community of inquiry

  5. WHO Smallpox Eradication Program as community of inquiry

  6. Pragmatism and organizational learning

  7. Synthesis

Chapter 4. Social epistemology: Learning from other people

  1. Evolution of social epistemology

  2. Testimonial knowledge

  3. Trust and testimony

  4. Learning from experts

  5. Peer disagreement

  6. Collective agents and collective beliefs

  7. Institutional or systems-oriented epistemology

  8. Social epistemology and organizational learning

  9. Social epistemology and knowledge management: The Eureka project at Xerox

  10. Coda

Chapter 5. Epistemic virtues and vices

  1. Virtue epistemology

  2. Epistemic virtues, organizational learning, and information seeking

  3. Epistemic vices in organizational learning

  4. The social production of knowledge

  5. Summary


Chapter 6. Models of information behavior

  1. Information behavior

  2. Information needs

  3. Information seeking

  4. Information use

  5. Kuhlthau’s information search process model

  6. Dervin’s sense-making metaphor

  7. Wilson’s information behavior model

  8. Coda

Chapter 7. Information in organizations

  1. Information challenges in organizations

  2. Information needs in organizations

  3. Information seeking in organizations

  4. Information use in organizations

  5. Integrative model of organizational information behavior

  6. Information culture of organizations

  7. Coda

Chapter 8. Internet epistemology

  1. The Internet and its epistemic consequences

  2. Epistemology of search engines

  3. Epistemology of Wikipedia

  4. Epistemology of blogs

  5. Epistemology of big data

  6. Anonymity on the Internet and its epistemic effects

  7. Epistemic virtues in the age of the Internet

  8. Social production of knowledge in online communities

  9. Coda

Chapter 9. The inquiring organization

  1. The inquiring organization as epistemic organization

  2. How organizations form beliefs

  3. Knowledge through action and inquiry

  4. Knowledge from other people

  5. Virtuous knowledge acquisition

  6. Epistemic curiosity

  7. Seeking information on the Internet

  8. Information behavior of organizations

Knowledge and action are the central relations between mind and world.

In action, world is adapted to mind.

In knowledge, mind is adapted to world.

When world is maladapted to mind, there is a residue of desire.

When mind is maladapted to world, there is a residue of belief.

Desire aspires to action; belief aspires to knowledge.

The point of desire is action; the point of belief is knowledge.

-- Timothy Williamson, Knowledge and Its Limits, 2000, p. 1