A multi-perspective investigation of the motivational mechanisms underlying knowledge sharing and performance

Pao Yue-kong Library Electronic Theses Database

A multi-perspective investigation of the motivational mechanisms underlying knowledge sharing and performance


Author: Cheng, Lan
Title: A multi-perspective investigation of the motivational mechanisms underlying knowledge sharing and performance
Degree: Ph.D.
Year: 2015
Subject: Knowledge management.
Organizational learning.
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Department: Dept. of Building and Real Estate
Pages: xvi, 131 pages ; 30 cm
Language: English
InnoPac Record: http://library.polyu.edu.hk/record=b2806879
URI: http://theses.lib.polyu.edu.hk/handle/200/7947
Abstract: Individual and organizational knowledge is a key asset for organizations in today's business environment. Organizational knowledge refers to a dynamic mix of experiences, expert insights, unique know-how (Nonaka & Konno, 1998) Knowledge management as an important enabler for company success and competitive advantage has received considerable attention in recent years from both practitioners and researchers. In particular, knowledge sharing is a central process of managing knowledge (Eisenhardt & Santos, 2002) and is crucial because it helps organizations promote best practices and reduce redundant learning efforts or 'reinventing the wheel'(Hansen, 2002; McDermott and O'Dell, 2001). To remain competitive in the marketplace, organizational knowledge and expertise must be shared (Gold et al., 2001; Zack, 1999) because it is a prerequisite for innovation (Brown & Eisenhardt, 1995; Verona, Prandelli, & Sawhney, 2006), organizational learning (Senge, 2006), and the development of capabilities and best practices (Argote, Ingram, Levine, & Moreland,2000). Knowledge sharing behaviour among employees provides opportunities for mutual learning, which result in improved employee performance, team effectiveness and organizational performance. The main motivation in developing the argument here is the growing realization that knowledge sharing behaviour within organization is a critical process affecting employee performance achievements. While the causal factor inducing knowledge sharing behaviour have been ranging from individual disposition to wider organizational environment, the lack of emphasis on investigating and comparing these antecedents has been surprising, particularly considering knowledge acquisition and provision these two facets of knowledge sharing behaviour simultaneously. Building on the work of goal orientations significantly impact knowledge sharing behaviour (Swift, 2011). This study proposes four dimensions of goal orientation differently related to performance rating mediated by knowledge acquisition and provision. In this study, the whole elaboration further the extant knowledge base by examining how the adoption of a goal orientation create a framework for self regulation via knowledge sharing behaviour, which are behaviour manifestations of the self-regulatory goal string process that mediate the relationship between goal orientation and performance. Before describing the antecedent and consequences of knowledge sharing behaviour among employees, it's important to identify when knowledge sharing occurs. A critical challenge in knowledge sharing behaviour is in motivating potential providers to share their knowledge with seekers since knowledge refers to the critical resource embedded in employees that can help employees and organizations to sustain advantage on competitive environment. Strong motives can help knowledge provider overcome the perceived costs incurred in taking time and expending effort to share knowledge. Base on individual-level knowledge sharing behaviour domain, through demonstrating, examining, and comparing three dominant perspectives that account for knowledge sharing behaviour and performance rating empirically. By identifying limitations inherent in each perspective and drawing upon the emerging research focus highlighted, this study address the existing research issues and assess our new perspective's unique explanatory power relative to previous explanations by simultaneously considering both individual trait and context factors as antecedents of the knowledge sharing engagement level and by testing whether knowledge sharing behaviour is an underlying mechanism through which these antecedents affect performance rating. This study conducted with one knowledge intensive industry-banking. This survey covered within two division firms affiliated with one finance group: one in Shenzhen, the other in Nanjing, both of which are from China. Preliminary interviews revealed that both firms were midlevel professionals engaged in knowledge-intensive work, including research and development, financial modelling, and customer relationship management and so on. The employees involved in this survey relied heavily on colleagues for information to solve problems and coordinate work. Having sites from three different cities and branches increased our confidence in the study's external validity. Based on a sample of 322 employees in knowledge-intensive positions, we tested the effects of the dispositional goal orientations of employees on their knowledge provision and knowledge acquisition behaviours, as well as their indirect effects on performance ratings. The results showed that goal orientations accounted for a significant portion of the variations of knowledge sharing behaviours among employees on top of the existing perspectives. Goal orientations of employees in knowledge-intensive positions also affected their performance ratings indirectly through knowledge provision and knowledge acquisition as intervening variables.
The main research question being addressed in this dissertation is the reasoning behind the organizational phenomena that why some employees engage in a high level of knowledge sharing behaviour why some employees are reluctant to do so. Building on the work of the goal orientation theory, four patterns of goal orientations play a key role in how individuals cognitively value the costs and benefits of engaging in knowledge sharing which subsequently affects their knowledge providing behaviour. This line of research has focused on the proximal consequences of goal orientation in order to better explain the mechanisms between goal orientation and distal performance outcomes. The central research objective is to establish a religious understanding to the antecedents, forming mechanisms, and consequences of knowledge sharing behaviour by opening a black box of goal orientation, eventually helping to explain the employee achievement variance. In answenng the research question, it's expected that this study will make contribution to the literature on knowledge management, social exchange theory, social network theory, and goal orientation theory. This dissertation is also expected to contribute to the opening of a new perspective to explain the whole mechanism for knowledge sharing behaviour--self regulation perspective, which differs from previous works in four important ways. First, in response to extant incomplete discussion about knowledge sharing behaviour, major objective is to examine and compare the multiple mechanisms through which knowledge sharing behaviour is activated upon different perspectives. Second, this study offers a theoretical understanding on the conceptual model regarding the formation of goal striving process motivated by different goal orientation. Third, this research explores a new perspective by developing a theoretical model indentifying and linking cognitive-motivational factors to explain and examine knowledge sharing behaviour mechanism towards fullest potential. Last but not the least; we propose a model simultaneously considering the knowledge providing and knowledge seeking behaviour. In this way, managerial policy makers are able to learn how to precisely encourage knowledge sharing behaviour from a broader horizon and deeper level rather than a few narrow and separable focal points. This study proposes the following implications for individuals initiating knowledge sharing practices or desiring to encourage knowledge sharing within their organizations. First, emphasizing organizational rewards (such as salary incentives, bonuses, promotion incentives, or job security) as a primary knowledge sharing mechanism is not cost-effective, because extrinsic rewards secure only temporary compliance (Alfie, 1993). This means that organizational rewards may provide temporary incentives for knowledge sharing, but is not fundamental force forming employee knowledge sharing behaviours. Second, effects to foster the learning-oriented aptitude of employees are necessary for creating and maintaining knowledge sharing culture. A highly self-regulatory staff can be established by recruiting and selecting employees who are active learners, and who have high cognitive aptitude and self presentational.

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