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Personal knowledge management and enactment of personal knowledge infrastructures as shadow IT

Mohammad Hossein Jarrahi (School of Information and Library Science, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Carrboro, North Carolina, USA)
Rebecca Reynolds (Department of Library and Information Science, Rutgers – The State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA)
Ali Eshraghi (Department of Business Information Systems, The University of Sydney Business School, Sydney, Australia)

Information and Learning Sciences

ISSN: 2398-5348

Article publication date: 30 November 2020

Issue publication date: 7 May 2021




Personal knowledge management (KM) lends new emphasis to ways through which individual knowledge workers engage with knowledge in organizational contexts. This paper aims to go beyond an organizational approach to KM to examine key personal KM and knowledge building (KB) practices among adult professionals.


This paper presents a summary of the findings from interviews with 58 consultants from 17 managing consulting firms. Participants were selected based on their knowledge-intensive roles and their willingness to share information about their knowledge practices. Data analysis was inductive and revealed multiple personal KM activities common among research participants, and the way these are supported by informal ties and various technologies.


This work highlights ways in which “shadow information technology” undergirds personal knowledge infrastructures and supports KM and KB practices in the context of management consulting firms. The results uncover how personal knowledge infrastructures emerge from personal KM and KB practices, and the role of informal social networks as well as social media in supporting personal KM and KB.

Research limitations/implications

This study contributes an overall conceptual model of factors that help knowledge workers build a personal knowledge infrastructure. By affording an understanding of socially embedded personal KM activities, this work helps organizations create a balance between KM strategies at the organizational level and personal knowledge goals of individual workers.


Much of the previous research on KM adopts organizational approaches to KM, accentuating how organizations can effectively capture, organize and distribute organizational knowledge (primarily through KM systems).



Jarrahi, M.H., Reynolds, R. and Eshraghi, A. (2021), "Personal knowledge management and enactment of personal knowledge infrastructures as shadow IT", Information and Learning Sciences, Vol. 122 No. 1/2, pp. 17-44.



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