A CONTEXTUAL-ORGANIZATIONAL COLLABORATION MODEL FOR GEOSPATIAL INFORMATION SHARING: CASE STUDIES FROM INDIANA, MONTANA, NEW YORK, AND NORTH CAROLINA Open Access
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The goal of this dissertation was to determine whether or not specific strategies and tools could increase the inter-jurisdictional sharing of geospatial information in the American states and to develop a model that blended theory and practice. Governments at all levels increasingly rely on geographic information systems (GIS) to plan, allocate resources, and deliver services. Quality GIS analysis requires current, accurate, and detailed geospatial information--information linked to specific geographic locations--and that does not come cheap. The sharing of geospatial information is one demonstrated means to lower costs. While the sharing of geospatial information within and among governments is improving, the pace has been exceeding slow. Despite nearly 20 years of government and academic attention to the problem, truly integrated geospatial databases that cross agency, jurisdictional, or departmental boundaries remain rare. Prior studies on this topic are often dated, done outside the United States, or do little to bridge the gap between theory and practice. A temporal-functional model for geospatial information sharing was developed from by joining the concepts found in the theoretical literature to the strategies and tools espoused in the practical works, and tested through multiple case studies. Four states with recognized success in sharing geospatial information--Indiana, Montana, New York, and North Carolina--were selected, and each of the four case studies consisted of an extensive document review, a multi-day site visit, and guided interviews. The research found that history, superordinate goals, rules, and politics matter because they shape that environment. The study also found practitioners can influence the environment by advocacy: effective communications, outreach, and demonstrating the value of sharing. The case study findings led to significant modifications to the initial model that resulted in a contextual-organizational model for geospatial information sharing. The findings were consistent with some of the more theoretical works that indicated that the overall culture and environment in which sharing decisions take place matter. While this study identified history and outreach as important factors, both are barely present in the literature.