Information Use, Flow and Ethics in the Informal Sector: Towards an Innovative Model
Keywords:enterprise, informality, management, policy, governance
This article interrogates how information is used and how it flows in the informal sector to develop an innovative model to satisfy the information it needs. A miscellany of information is available on how informal businesses are managed in Harare. However, some of this information is in the custody of a few and not readily available in the mainstream media. Some of it is also misinformation. Innovative ways of processing and disseminating information generated from the informal sector are critical. Qualitative methodology was adopted and semi-structured interviews were held with representatives from selected informal sectors in Harare. The study revealed that in the informal sector, information is used to guide decision making regarding what products to order and how to price such products, where to get affordable stock and raw material, and markets for products. The main sources of information cited were social media and word of mouth from peers. Mainstream media was seldom used and other online databases of information. The study showed that there are often ethical issues on how information circulates in the informal sector, such as the authenticity of the information and some players withheld information. Findings from the study have implications on the design and delivery of information services in the informal sector. An integrated model on information generation and use in the informal sector was developed to advance the use and dissemination of information towards the development of the informal sector.