Records Management Literature: the language of collaboration

Literature Review

The central issue related to records management in the corporate setting is often that neither the company owner nor the employees can agree on what records must be saved, which items can be shredded and in what order when a company faces the prospect of being dissolved.

Furthermore, collaborating and receiving buy-in from all parties: records manager, company owner and employees appear unrealistic. A review of the records management literature reveals a startling gap in articles analyzing the disposal of records when a company dissolves or merges with another organization. Matters related to this issue go to the very core of records management theory and practice: what records should or must be saved and who can records managers best work with corporations in this process?

There are several different approaches to this query underscored by articles from the past fifteen years. I divide this literature into three categories for comparative analysis: records management theory, records management case studies and those case studies that relate specifically to a company’s dissolve.

From a European perspective, Antonella Bilotto presents an analysis of records management history and theory from an Italian perspective in her article “The management of corporate records in Italy: traditional practice and methods and digital environment.” Authors of three additional articles offer further theoretical perspectives on records management compliance, compliance phobias and a risk management model. Mimi Dionne provides important theoretical background information for e-records management based upon her work implementing an email management program. Michael Nycyk uses an ethnographic approach in his case study analyzing one Australian construction company’s records management practices. Sophia Philipson analyzes the closure of a government agency and reflects on her role as records manager. Finally, James Fogerty presents five case studies from his experiences as the head of the acquisitions and curatorial department at he Minnesota Historical Society working with companies that downsize or outsource their functions.

The arguments Philipson and Fogerty present underscore that collaboration between records managers and company staff remains an achievable goal for practitioners. As the field of records management continues to evolve and as the electronic records management literature becomes infused with practice as well as theoretical approaches to collaboration issues, the gap between theory and practice will continue to close.

This body of literature supports the conclusion that providing company staff with the opportunity and the encouragement to participate the process buy in results in a positive experience for both records managers and employees.


Antonella Bilotto and Maria Guercio, “The Management of corporate records in Italy:
traditional practice and methods and digital environment,” Records Management Journal Vol. 13, No. 3, (2003): 136-152.

Dionne, Mimi, and Adele Carboni. “How to Successfully Implement an E-Records
Management Program.” Information Management Journal 43, no. 2 (March 2009): 49-53.

Fogerty, James. “Archival Brinkmanship: Downsizing, Outsourcing, and the Records of
Corporate America,” American Archivist, Vol. 60 (Winter 1997): 44-55.

Kahn, Randolph A. “Records Management & Compliance: Making the Connection.”
Information Management Journal 38, no. 3 (May 2004): 28-36.

Nycyk, Michael. “Records management practices in construction industries: Australian
perspectives.” Records Management Journal 18, no. 2 (June 13, 2008): 140-149.

Philipson, Sophia. “Closure of a Government Agency- Disposing of the Records,”
Records Management Journal, Vol. 8 No. 1 (April 1998): 67-73.

Rush, Michelle, and Ganesh Vednere. “Calming the Data Storm: A Risk Management
Model for Mitigating Risks.” Information Management Journal 42, no. 4 (July 2008): 48-54.

Vednere, Ganesh. “Confronting Compliance Phobias: Developing a Record Management Compliance Plan.” EContent 32, no. 8 (Oct, 2009): 36-40.

Related Works

Fisher, Gary. “Housing and heritage take an objective view: two case studies.”
Information Management and Technology. Vol. 39, no. 2 (Apr 2006- Jun 2006): 78-79.

McKenna, Frank. “Do Your Really Need a Taxonomy/Classification Scheme with a
Records Management System? Why are We Still Doing it the Old Way?” Records Management Bulletin. No. 152 (Nov 2009): 12-17.

Stuart, Katherine and David Bromage. “Current state of play: records management and
the cloud.” Records Management Journal. Vol. 20. No. 2 (2010): 217- 225.

Wilson, A. “It’s alright, in theory!” Records Management Bulletin. No. 64 (Oct 1994):
13-15, 19.

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