Does knowledge empower? An examination of knowledge seeking behavior in multinational corporations

Pao Yue-kong Library Electronic Theses Database

Does knowledge empower? An examination of knowledge seeking behavior in multinational corporations


Author: Chen, Liwei
Title: Does knowledge empower? An examination of knowledge seeking behavior in multinational corporations
Degree: M.Phil.
Year: 2011
Subject: Knowledge management.
Technological innovations.
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Department: Dept. of Management and Marketing
Pages: 136 p. : ill. ; 30 cm.
Language: English
InnoPac Record:
Abstract: Knowledge management (KM) is one of the most critical issues in knowledge-based economies and globalized businesses. Companies, especially multinational corporations (MNC), have implemented different information systems such as electronic knowledge repositories (EKR), to support their KM initiatives. Despite companies' tremendous investments in EKR implementations, returns on EKR usage are usually unclear and deserve more theoretical investigation. In addition, how the benefits of EKR usage differ across individuals and cultures remains unknown for both practitioners and researchers. This thesis focuses on individual behavior in terms of seeking knowledge from EKR systems in the multinational context. Considering empowerment feelings as a cognitive motivation inspired by the knowledge embedded in an EKR, this study appropriated a contextualized constructIT-enabled knowledge empowermentand explored this construct as a psychological response to EKR usage by knowledge seekers. Drawing upon the theory of person-environment fit (PE fit), an interactive moderation model was developed to explain how personal innovativeness toward IT (PIIT) and national cultural characteristics (i.e., power distance, individualism/collectivism) jointly moderate the positive relationship between EKR knowledge-seeking behaviors and IT-enabled knowledge empowerment.
The hypotheses in the research model were empirically tested through a large-scale online survey in a multinational logistics company. Data was collected from 1,004 knowledge workers across 30 nations. Using simple regressions and hierarchical linear modeling techniques, this research reveals interesting results and provides valuable insights into EKR knowledge-seeking consequences. Specifically, IT-enabled knowledge empowerment was found to be a psychological response to EKR usage by knowledge seekers. National cultures of power distance and individualism/collectivism presented significant moderating effects on the relationship between EKR knowledge seeking and IT-enabled knowledge empowerment. Importantly, this positive link was magnified to the largest extent when the congruence between PIIT and national cultures were achieved. This thesis makes several important contributions to theory and practice. First, it provides a theoretically grounded perspective to understand individual psychological responses of IS usage and how these responses differ across individual characteristics and national cultures. This study, thus, makes important theoretical extensions in the fields of knowledge management, IS usage, empowerment, and person-environment fit. In addition, the rigorous research design and the advanced analysis techniques (e.g., hierarchical linear modeling (HLM)) also provide valuable contributions for cross-cultural IS research. As for the practical implications, the findings of this study suggest that managers should take individual characteristics and environmental cultures into consideration and should adopt differential approaches to empower employees via their EKR implementation initiatives.

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