The purpose of this paper is to develop a critical understanding of IT enhanced competence management and its promise to bridge operational and strategic functions with the aim of revealing potential hidden challenges.
Empirical data were gathered through interviews and observations during a longitudinal field study over a two year period in a large Norwegian IT consulting firm that has adopted a competence IT tool throughout the entire organisation. The investigation was conducted from a practice‐based approach to studying competence management.
It was found that IT enhanced competence management that aims to bridge the individual and organisational purposes, is mediated by a universal‐stock versus contextualist approach to competence development. This results in four possible alternatives to IT enhanced competence management. In this study the contextual competence assessment for individual purposes has been objectified for organisational purposes, causing confusion about the value of IT enhanced competence management.
This study has been conducted in only one large IT firm in Norway. Further research is needed to support the finding that it is beneficial to remain in either the contextual or the universal‐stock orientation to competence development when using the same assessments for individual‐operational and organisational‐strategic purposes.
The trickiness of IT enhanced competence management lies in the four hidden belief structures about competence that influence both the design and use of IT enhanced competence tools. Insight gained from this paper may help managers to reflect on their assumptions about competence and may contribute to successful IT enhanced competence management.
The research clarifies possible pitfalls when aiming to satisfy multiple purposes in the design and use of a competence IT tool.
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