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Shall I Google it or ask the competent villain down the hall? The moderating role of information need in information source selection

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Abstract

Previous studies have found that both (a) the characteristics (e.g., quality and accessibility) (e.g., Fidel & Green, 2004) and (b) the types of sources (e.g., relational and nonrelational sources) (e.g., Zimmer, Henry, & Butler, 2007) influence information source selection. Different from earlier studies that have prioritized one source attribute over the other, this research uses information need as a contingency factor to examine information seekers' simultaneous consideration of different attributes. An empirical test from 149 employees' evaluations of eight information sources revealed that (a) low-and high-information-need individuals favored information source quality over accessibility while medium-information-need individuals favored accessibility over quality; and (b) individuals are more likely to choose relational over nonrelational sources as information need increases.

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