Apply fundamental management theories and principles to the administration of records and recordkeeping organizations.
The management of records and recordkeeping organizations stem from the need to keep records safe, secure, and organized, much like the personal management of information explored by Jordan Bass, but on a much larger scale. However, what separates the recordkeeping organization from any individual recordkeeper is that “individuals archive information for reasons beyond routine business functionality and factor emotional and sentimental reasons into the decisions they make regarding the retention and disposition of recorded information” (Bass 2013, 63). Management theory transcends that in a way, as it focuses on the concept of leadership and not recordkeeping based on the individual decision. It factors in the positive and negative impacts the organization could have in keeping records, as well as the environment the records are being kept in. There is the constant of questions about whether the environment (which would include the physical aspect, the persons aspect, the policy aspect, and more) is sustainable as it is for the function of appropriate recordkeeping.
Even so, management theories and principles encourage leadership and understanding, because so much of recordkeeping is conducted in a framework underneath a bigger functional concept (i.e, the recordkeeping is not the main function of the organization, but rather a subset of their activities). Consider that medical records of Hospital A are records created to keep track of a person’s medical history and administered treatments, however, the manager of Hospital A does not solely keep records, but manages the practice of medical treatment and thereunder the records of such. This manager might have appointed a manager to solely manage the created records, but the records manager still has to follow the policies of Hospital A as a whole, but in particular those that pertain to them. The manager of Hospital A, though, is still responsible for making sure those policies are carried out, even though they are not directly in charge of managing the records. This might cause some issues, as “simply ideas and beliefs derived from management theories can affect the practice of records management more than concepts derived from the archival theory itself. Such influences can obviously be either positive or negative…be quite positive in the sense that they [do] not suggest anything that could per se be detrimental to good records management practices. However, it is important for records managers to be aware of these kinds of external and rather invisible forces” (Foscarini 2012, 30). However, if it were not for the manager of Hospital A understanding the responsibilities and functionalities of the records manager they appointed, then they would not be able to properly manage the environment as a whole.
Considering, then, that one cannot always rely on being the manager of the entire organization in order to understand the managerial functionalities of recordkeeping, it is sometimes dependent on individual leadership to manage records and the functionality of recordkeeping. This compact summary of leadership by Mariz, et al., in a recordkeeping administrative role is as such:
- is active rather than reactive;
- seeks always to see the bigger picture, to see how the archives fits in the broader scheme of things, and to see how to lead in both the local repository and larger systems;
- makes its relevance known to a wider constituency;
- is collaborative rather than directive or managerial;
- assumes responsibility rather than waiting for responsibility to be imposed;
- works to build bridges with and to its allies; and finally,
- is creative and able to see a way forward where others see only chaos.” (2011, 103).
Evidence for submission
Camden County Historical Society Program Environmental Scan and SWOT Analysis – Management of Records and Archival Institutions (MARA 204)
Using the management principles and guidelines for such repository issues such as organization, storage space, proneness to disaster, staff responsibilities, repository location, staff resources, and finding users to appeal to, the student (myself) was asked to select a local repository to conduct an internal and external environmental scan on, as well as compile a SWOT (strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis on based on the results of the environmental scans. The site chosen was for the Camden County Historical Society in Camden, NJ, which was found to be hindered by a lack of funding for technology, a lack of permanent staff, and located in an area that has issues with community and crime. A report such as this would be an advisory one to a given environment to be interpreted by the administration, therefore it was created with management theory in mind.
Information Governance Policy Review for the National Health Service– Information Governance (MARA 284)
For the review, the student was asked to analyze an information governance policy and how it was being implemented in the environment according to external sources. The student (myself) chose the pilot policy of the National Health Service in England, which had just been updated to its second edition and had plans to be updated to a third in 2017. These early editions made for an effective application of management theories and principles to make the decision on whether this policy was built correctly to be carried out. Some of the issues addressed were staff quantity, staff roles and responsibilities, staff training, and user protection. By addressing the policy, the student was able to point out if daily operations would be impacted positively or negatively by the administrative policy of information governance, especially in an environment having to do with the medical recordkeeping field.
Bosler College Strategic Plan and Cyrus B. Worthington Photograph Usage Questions – Archives and Manuscripts (LIBR 256)
This final essay-based exam required the student (myself) to compose a strategic plan for Bosler College to test the knowledge of management theories and principles in the context of setting goals such as more open access and the definition of the organization’s collection with the defined resources and current operations under a given environment. In doing so, it required me to consider the limitations I had in mission statement and budget and to apply management theory to make the decisions on possible solutions. It also asked the student to make a decision concerning the use of an image from a collection managed by the student in an exhibit, in order to test the student’s knowledge of copyright principles in a common administrative situation.
What was learned and how it will be applied
By exploring various recordkeeping organizations, I am able to see how fundamental management theory can shift depending on the environment, which is why considering leadership in an individual role as a recordkeeper is so important. It is beneficial to understand how the bigger picture of an organization, which includes policies, departmental interrelationships, external factors, and more, will affect the functions of recordkeeping. Take, for instance, my experience with the Runnemede Library. Without understanding the patron membership policies, the material return policies, the inter-library loan policies, and more, how am I supposed to know why we keep records for certain functions? How am I supposed to make decisions regarding the management of these records? I have to know the environment and what factors into it to be able to properly manage. Therefore, there is the factor of environmental absorption that every record keeper should go through in every new environment, and continuous assessment of any changes and refreshing in order to continue proper management and leadership application.
Bass, J. (2013). A PIM Perspective: Leveraging Personal Information Management Research in the Archiving of Personal Digital Records. Archivaria, 75(1), 49-75.
Foscarini, F. (2012). Understanding functions: an organizational culture perspective. Records Management Journal, 22(1), 20-36. doi:10.1108/09565691211222072
Mariz, G., McCrea, D. E., Hackman, L. J., Kurtz, T., & Jimerson, R. C. (2011). Leadership Skills for Archivists. American Archivist, 74(1), 102-122.