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An exploration of the professional and leader identity of IT professionals transitioning to a permanent hybrid role: a longitudinal investigation

Sally Smith (School of Computing, Edinburgh Napier University, Edinburgh, UK)
Thomas N. Garavan (Business School, Edinburgh Napier University, Edinburgh, UK) (Visiting Research Professor, National College of Ireland, IFSC Dublin, Ireland)
Anne Munro (Business School, Edinburgh Napier University, Edinburgh, UK)
Elaine Ramsey (Department of Business and Enterprise, University of Ulster, Belfast, UK)
Colin F. Smith (School of Computing, Edinburgh Napier University, Edinburgh, UK)
Alison Varey (School of Computing, Edinburgh Napier University, Edinburgh, UK)

Information Technology & People

ISSN: 0959-3845

Publication date: 11 May 2020

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to explore the role of professional and leader identity and the maintenance of identity, through identity work as IT professionals transitioned to a permanent hybrid role. This study therefore contributes to the under-researched area of permanent transition to a hybrid role in the context of IT, where there is a requirement to enact both the professional and leader roles together.

Design/methodology/approach

The study utilised a longitudinal design and two qualitative methods (interviews and reflective diaries) to gather data from 17 IT professionals transitioning to hybrid roles.

Findings

The study findings reveal that IT professionals engage in an ongoing process of reconciliation of professional and leader identity as they transition to a permanent hybrid role, and they construct hybrid professional–leader identities while continuing to value their professional identity. They experience professional–leader identity conflict resulting from reluctance to reconcile both professional and leader identities. They used both integration and differentiation identity work tactics to ameliorate these tensions.

Originality/value

The longitudinal study design, the qualitative approaches used and the unique context of the participants provide a dynamic and deep understanding of the challenges involved in performing hybrid roles in the context of IT.

Keywords

Citation

Smith, S., Garavan, T.N., Munro, A., Ramsey, E., Smith, C.F. and Varey, A. (2020), "An exploration of the professional and leader identity of IT professionals transitioning to a permanent hybrid role: a longitudinal investigation", Information Technology & People, Vol. 34 No. 2, pp. 789-811. https://doi.org/10.1108/ITP-02-2019-0084

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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