I presented my qualitative research at an academic/practitioner conference of national security professionals. My research was on challenges to information flow between knowledge producers and decision makers as mediated through the function of a “briefer,” someone whose job it is to be the conduit between technical information production and policy-level decision making. My context was the U.S. national security system. A political science professor told me that there is nothing in the national security literature that discusses the role of the “briefer” to high level policy makers and this research opened up an area of inquiry never known to exist. An educator from a U.S. intelligence agency said that their job was to train analysts to think and write using evidence-based reasoning yet how surprising it was to find out from the research that “narrative,” as opposed to analytic discourse, was the mechanism through which knowledge was transferred to policy makers. An intelligence officer from an allied country, during an “aha” moment after the presentation, was able to apply the “knowledge producer-briefer-decision maker” model to their own context (after stating during the presentation that the findings did not generalize across contexts) and I was able to help generate four strategies to fill specific gaps in their information flow context. It was very interesting and exciting to see how others applied the research to their own contexts.
Adrian Wolfberg is a Department of Defense employee working in the Pentagon. He is a student in the Ph.D. in Management program at the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. His research examines the nexus between information systems and organizational behavior to understand how technical knowledge is communicated to non-technical decision-makers.