Bridging User Organizations: Knowledge Brokering and the Work of Information Technology Professionals

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This interpretive case study examines knowledge brokering as an aspect of the work of information technology professionals. The purpose of this exploratory study is to understand knowledge brokering from the perspective of IT professionals as they reflect upon their work practice. As knowledge brokers, IT professionals see themselves as facilitating the flow of knowledge about both IT and business practices across the boundaries that separate work units within organizations. A qualitative analysis of interviews conducted with 23 IT professionals and business users in a large manufacturing and distribution company is summarized in a conceptual framework showing the conditions, practices, and consequences of knowledge brokering by IT professionals. The framework suggests that brokering practices are conditioned by structural conditions, including decentralization and a federated IT management organization, and by technical conditions, specifically shared IT systems that serve as boundary objects. Brokering practices include gaining permission to cross organizational boundaries, surfacing and challenging assumptions made by IT users, translation and interpretation, and relinquishing ownership of knowledge. Consequences of brokering are the transfer of both business and IT knowledge across units in the organization.
Additional Details
Author Suzanne D. Pawlowski and Daniel Robey
Year 2004
Volume 28
Issue 4
Keywords Boundary spanning, organizational communication, organizational learning, IS skill requirements, IT professionals, knowledge broker, internal knowledge transfer
Page Numbers 645-672
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