The impact of mobile shadow IT usage on knowledge protection: an exploratory study

Abbas M., Alghail A.

VINE JOURNAL OF INFORMATION AND KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS, vol.53, no.4, pp.830-848, 2023 (ESCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 53 Issue: 4
  • Publication Date: 2023
  • Doi Number: 10.1108/vjikms-08-2020-0155
  • Journal Indexes: Emerging Sources Citation Index (ESCI), Scopus, FRANCIS, ABI/INFORM, Aerospace Database, Communication Abstracts, Compendex, INSPEC, Library and Information Science Abstracts, Library, Information Science & Technology Abstracts (LISTA), Metadex, vLex, Civil Engineering Abstracts
  • Page Numbers: pp.830-848
  • Keywords: Knowledge protection, COVID-19, Mobile shadow IT, SECURITY, NEUTRALIZATION, STRATEGIES, BEHAVIOR, ISSUES, VIEW
  • Anadolu University Affiliated: Yes


Purpose The mobile shadow information technology (IT) phenomenon is both completely misunderstood and negatively explored by those participating inside the organizational ecosystem. It represents all internet-based software, any other solutions for communications or employees' sharing without any formal authorization or approval from the IT department. Such behavior can lead to a security breach of the organization's data privacy, as these risks could disseminate it without the organization fully knowing. Recent research identifies that shadow IT is rarely covered from the knowledge sharing and knowledge protection (KP) perspective. This paper aims to provide an insight on how mobile shadow IT as a phenomenon could impact KP of an organization as a whole. Design/methodology/approach This is an exploratory study based on a qualitative approach. The authors conducted interviews with 11 IT users to answer the main research question. The interview guidelines were divided into three parts: types of mobile shadow IT and occurrence; KP nature in the workplace; and mobile shadow IT impact on KP. Findings The research findings identified that most interviewees use mobile shadow IT without any notice or permission from their IT departments. This sharing also negatively impacts the KP in the organization. The most common mobile shadow IT applications are the clouded type like Dropbox, Google Drive and WhatsApp. Interviewees are using mobile shadow IT mainly because organizations do not provide suitable tools to communicate efficiently. The authors concluded that mobile shadow IT harms KP with no security and privacy on what is being shared because this process is unmonitored by the organization. Practical implications For adequate knowledge and data protection, IT departments need to take more actions and efforts. This study can help IT decision-makers cope with the technology changes while understanding mobile shadow IT impacts. This study also offers insight regarding types of applications that can be used as an alternative tool for employees rather than using unauthorized applications. This research shows that medium-sized organizations are free to use these applications, which can cause damage to organizations. Originality/value This research is arguably among the first to explore the interviewees' perspectives on how mobile shadow IT impacts KP. This paper also provides theoretical and practical insights by identifying the three primary constructs and how mobile shadow IT usage can affect KP.