Knowledge transfer in IT-Service organizations : A qualitative case study researching a boundary object theory perspective on knowledge transfer through information systems, in an ITIL context

University essay from Linköpings universitet/InformatikLinköpings universitet/Filosofiska fakulteten; Linköpings universitet/InformatikLinköpings universitet/Filosofiska fakulteten

Abstract: Knowledge management is seen as a hot topic in order for organizations to become effective and utilize the knowledge residing within the organization. The most important factor in knowledge management is believed to be the knowledge transfer, which is the process of transferring knowledge between two parties. A context in which knowledge and knowledge transfer are especially important is within the best practice framework ‘ITIL’ and IT-service organizations. Therefore, the purpose with this study is to analyze how knowledge is transferred through information systems in an ITIL organization, and how the transfer process can be further understood by incorporating individual perspectives on knowledge. Besides that, our purpose is to identify factors influencing the knowledge transfer from both the organizations and the ITIL framework. The reason for this is that knowledge transfer through information systems in an ITIL context is rather underexplored, previous research regarding this is mainly focusing on putting knowledge in repositories and make it available, which is believed to create certain implications regarding the individual perspective in the creation and transfer of knowledge through information systems. These implications are something that has not been explored, which is a knowledge gap we intend to fill with this thesis. That is why we have constructed three research questions regarding how the organizations understand what valuable knowledge is, what factors that is influencing their knowledge transfer, and how these previously individual aspects can be further understood by applying the boundary object theory on knowledge transfer through information systems. From a multi case study with semi structured interviews we could collect a valuable collection of empirical data, that was collected from six respondents representing three organizations. By applying the interpretive and social constructivist research philosophy with an abductive methodological approach, previous research and the boundary object theory in combination with the theory of knowledge creation we could analyze our empirical data. Our study shows that the perspective on valuable knowledge is something with direct relation to ITIL, and highly connected to what its contribution is to the core business that the IT-service organization is helping. Valuable knowledge is also seen as stored knowledge. We can from our study also see that there are four predominant forces influencing the knowledge transfer process. We identified that the overall perspective on what knowledge is in the organization, how and what the organization values as knowledge, the ITIL framework and their knowledge management strategy directly influenced knowledge transfer. Our main finding in this study is that when organizations are transferring knowledge through information systems the individual perspective on both knowledge, knowledge creation and the knowledge transfer is one of the most important to keep in mind. The knowledge in the information systems is a way to communicate among individuals, and a way to translate one individual’s knowledge to another, hence is the individual creating the knowledge an important factor to acknowledge. We can see that aspects such as experiences, skills, insights, purposes, perspectives and contextual understandings highly influence the knowledge being created, hence the possibility to create rich knowledge at the receiver of knowledge. These aspects also influence whether the stored knowledge has any tacit elements, which seems to facilitate learning more for the receiving individual.

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