Knowledge Management Technology as a Stage for Strategic Self-Presentation: Implications for Knowledge Sharing in Organizations

Information and Organization, Vol. 22, Issue 1, pp. 37-59, 2012

50 Pages Posted: 15 Aug 2012 Last revised: 25 Jun 2014

See all articles by Paul M. Leonardi

Paul M. Leonardi

University of California, Santa Barbara

Jeffrey W. Treem

Northwestern University

Date Written: 2012

Abstract

This article explores why it is often difficult for organizations to capture, store, and share employees’ individually held expertise. Drawing on studies of the social construction of expertise and theories of transactive memory systems and self-presentation in computer-mediated environments, we argue that knowledge management technologies should be viewed both as stages upon which motivated individuals enact performances of expertise, and as containers that provide visible, communal displays of the expertise of organizational members. Through a longitudinal study of the work of IT technicians we show that users of a knowledge management technology strategically craft their own information entries to position themselves as experts vis-à-vis their coworkers. The data suggest that proactive self-presentations enacted by a few actors early on may spur reactive behaviors of strategic self-presentation across the organization. We explore implications of these findings for theories of transactive memory systems and technology use in organizations.

Keywords: knowledge management, visibility, information technology, social construction, expertise, self-presentation, deception

Suggested Citation

Leonardi, Paul M. and Treem, Jeffrey W., Knowledge Management Technology as a Stage for Strategic Self-Presentation: Implications for Knowledge Sharing in Organizations (2012). Information and Organization, Vol. 22, Issue 1, pp. 37-59, 2012, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2129876 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2129876

Paul M. Leonardi (Contact Author)

University of California, Santa Barbara ( email )

Phelps Hall
Santa Barbara, CA 93106
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.tmp.ucsb.edu/leonardi/

Jeffrey W. Treem

Northwestern University ( email )

2001 Sheridan Road
Evanston, IL 60208
United States

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