Understanding the effects of social capital factors and individual motivators on knowledge sharing : a study of professional accountants in Hong Kong

Pao Yue-kong Library Electronic Theses Database

Understanding the effects of social capital factors and individual motivators on knowledge sharing : a study of professional accountants in Hong Kong

 

Author: Mak, Yin-king
Title: Understanding the effects of social capital factors and individual motivators on knowledge sharing : a study of professional accountants in Hong Kong
Degree: D.B.A.
Year: 2009
Subject: Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations.
Knowledge, Sociology of
Social capital (Sociology)
Motivation (Psychology)
Department: Graduate School of Business
Pages: vi, 136 leaves : col. ill. ; 30 cm.
Language: English
InnoPac Record: http://library.polyu.edu.hk/record=b2321802
URI: http://theses.lib.polyu.edu.hk/handle/200/4287
Abstract: Knowledge sharing is not easy, as it is not natural for individuals to come together and share knowledge. Barriers to knowledge sharing are always present. However, it is critical to have knowledge flow among individuals in an organization as it is the most valuable organizational resource. This study is motivated by calls for a better understanding of the factors motivating knowledge sharing at the individual level. This research draws upon social capital, motivation, sunk cost, and cost-benefit theories to examine how social capital and individual motivational factors are related to knowledge sharing. Social capital theory offers the factors of trust and subjective norms, which are found to significantly facilitate knowledge-sharing activities. Reputation and enjoyment in helping others, from motivation theory, are prominent motives driving knowledge sharing among individuals. Sunk cost theory identifies the sunk cost effect as a strong exploratory motive behind knowledge-sharing behavior. Perceived net benefit, from cost-benefit theory, is found to have a moderating effect on the relationship between subjective norms and knowledge sharing. It is hoped that by addressing these factors, firms will be able to remove barriers to knowledge sharing and facilitate such sharing to reap more benefits from it. The study primarily draws on the knowledge sharing, knowledge management, and individual behavior literatures. Based on prior findings, the study adopts social capital factors and individual motivators to form the theoretical framework. A survey is conducted with a sample of 183 professional accountants to test the study hypotheses. Statistical analysis is undertaken to assess the psychometric properties of the model and instruments and to evaluate the proposed interrelations among the constructs. The results show that affect-based trust, subjective norms, reputation, and the sunk cost effect have a significant direct influence on knowledge sharing. Subjective norms also play a significant mediating role in the relationship between affect-based trust and knowledge sharing; that is, the perception of the approval or encouragement of significant others to share knowledge leads to a higher level of knowledge sharing among professional accountants if a higher level of affect-based trust exists between them. Perceived net benefit is found to have a significant moderating effect on the relationship between subjective norms and knowledge sharing; that is, professional accountants have a stronger desire to share knowledge if they perceive that they will receive a net benefit, even if the level of their perception of significant others encouraging them to share is already high. This study contributes to the literature by identifying how the social capital factors of trust and subjective norms and individual motivators of reputation, sunk cost effect, and net perceived benefit taken together can explain why professional accountants share their knowledge with others. An understanding of these elements is important both theoretically and practically in understanding the factors motivating knowledge sharing. Researchers can apply the model across different subjects, industry sectors, or national borders, to identify special patterns in knowledge sharing. Management may consider the underlying factors primarily affecting knowledge sharing practices. This can help in the examination of the effectiveness and improvement or fine-tuning of organizational knowledge-sharing programs and practices.

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