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Title: The rhetoric of ‘knowledge hoarding’: a research-based critique
Authors: Trusson, Clive
Hislop, Donald
Doherty, Neil
Keywords: Rhetoric
Knowledge hoarding
Knowledge sharing
Knowledge workers
IT Service Management
IT professionals
IT work
Issue Date: 2017
Publisher: © Emerald
Citation: TRUSSON, C., HISLOP, D. and DOHERTY, N., 2017. The rhetoric of ‘knowledge hoarding’: a research-based critique. Journal of Knowledge Management, 21(6), pp.1540-1558.
Abstract: Purpose - Via a study of IT service professionals, this article responds to a recent trend towards reifying ‘knowledge hoarding’ for purposes of quantitative/deductive research. A ‘rhetorical theory’ lens is applied to reconsider ‘knowledge hoarding’ as a value-laden rhetoric that directs managers towards addressing assumed worker dysfunctionality. Design/methodology/approach - A qualitative study of practicing IT service professionals (assumed within IT service management ‘best practice’ to be inclined to hoard knowledge) was conducted over a 34 day period. 20 workers were closely observed processing IT service incidents and 26 workers were interviewed about knowledge sharing practices. Findings - The study found that the character of IT service practice is more one of pro-social collegiality in sharing knowledge/know-how than one of self-interested strategic knowledge concealment. Research limitations/implications - The study concerns a single occupational context. The study indicates that deductive research that reifies ‘knowledge hoarding’ as a naturally-occurring phenomenon is flawed, with clear implications for future research. Practical implications - The study suggests that management concern for productivity might be redirected away from addressing assumed knowledge hoarding behaviour and towards encouraging knowledge sharing via social interaction in the workplace. Originality/value - Previous studies have not directly examined the concept of knowledge hoarding using qualitative methods, nor have they considered it as a rhetorical device.
Description: This paper was accepted for publication in the journal Journal of Knowledge Management and the definitive published version is available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/JKM-04-2017-0146
Version: Accepted for publication
DOI: 10.1108/JKM-04-2017-0146
URI: https://dspace.lboro.ac.uk/2134/26114
Publisher Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/JKM-04-2017-0146
ISSN: 1367-3270
Appears in Collections:Published Articles (Business School)

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