ICT applications that include functionality for knowledge sharing are routinely used by IT service providers even though their implementation is known to be problematic and the reasons for such problems not well understood. To shed light on the issue, we collected data at two organisations where managers had provided IT service support workers with IT service management (ITSM) tools incorporating functionality for knowledge sharing. Using critical discourse analysis and rhetorical analysis techniques, we contrasted primary data representative of IT service support practice with other primary and publicly available secondary data reflecting the prevailing discourse of IT service managers. Through this analysis, we identify an apparent dissonance between ITSM managerial and worker discourses that reflect opposing epistemologies. Managers are optimistic about the benefits of ICT-based knowledge sharing, whereas the practice of workers is revealed to privilege self-reliance and interpersonal knowledge sharing. By taking a dual, management-worker, perspective, we provide fresh insight into why ICT-based knowledge sharing is problematic. As a theoretical contribution, we propose that dysfunctional intra-organisational conflict can arise where incompatible management and worker practices become institutionalised through the simultaneous diffusion of conflicting discourses. © 2013 Wiley Publishing Ltd.
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