Role-based access control (RBAC) continues to gain popularity in the management of authorization concerning access to knowledge assets in organizations. As a socio-technical concept, the notion of role in RBAC has been overemphasized, while very little attention is given to the precursors: role strain, role ambiguity, and role conflict. These constructs provide more significant insights into RBAC design in Knowledge Management Systems (KMS). KMS is the technology-based knowledge management tool used to acquire, store, share, and apply knowledge for improved collaboration and knowledge-value creation. In this paper, we propose eight propositions that require future research concerning the RBAC system for knowledge security. In addition, we propose a model that integrates these precursors and RBAC to deepen the understanding of these constructs. Further, we examine these precursory constructs in a socio-technical fashion relative to RBAC in the organizational context and the status–role relationship effects. We carried out conceptual analysis and synthesis of the relevant literature, and present a model that involves the three essential precursors that play crucial roles in role mining and engineering in RBAC design. Using an illustrative case study of two companies where 63 IT professionals participated in the study, the study established that the precursors positively and significantly increase the intractability of the RBAC system design. Our framework draws attention to both the management of organizations and RBAC system developers about the need to consider and analyze the precursors thoroughly before initiating the processes of policy engineering, role mining, and role engineering. The propositions stated in this study are important considerations for future work.
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