The influence of shadow IT usage on knowledge sharing

Gabriela L Mallmann, Antonio Carlos Gastaud Maçada, Mírian Oliveira
  • Business Information Review, March 2018, SAGE Publications
  • DOI: 10.1177/0266382118760143

The influence of shadow IT usage on knowledge sharing: An exploratory study with IT users

What is it about?

Employees increasingly use unauthorized technologies at the workplace, which is referred to as shadow IT. Previous research identifies that shadow IT is often collaborative systems used by employees to collaborate, communicate, and share content with coworkers, clients, or external partners. Based on these previous findings, we propose that shadow IT usage may positively influence organizational knowledge sharing (KS), which is central to knowledge management practices. Thus, this research aims to (1) identify the types and occurrences of shadow IT used by employee in the workplace, (2) investigate how KS (donation and collection) occurs via shadow IT, and (3) investigate how shadow IT influences KS. This is an exploratory study based on a qualitative approach. We performed interviews with IT users to answer the research question. Our findings identify that most of the interviewees use collaborative systems and mobile devices unauthorized by the IT department to share knowledge and communicate with their coworkers. The most common IT cited are WhatsApp and Skype, as well as solutions to store and share content, like Google Drive. In addition, several employees reported using shadow IT mainly because organizations do not provide suitable tools to communicate efficiently. We conclude that shadow IT can facilitate KS, primarily when people are geographically distributed since these unauthorized systems provide real-time communication.

Why is it important?

Our theoretical contribution is to expand current knowledge about shadow IT and reinforce the importance and prevalence of informal and decentralized KS within organizations. As for the practical implications, our article can help IT managers to better understand the usage of shadow IT and how they can balance the risk and benefits of this phenomenon.

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The following have contributed to this page: Gabriela Labres Mallmann