This study explores key factors affecting the usage of information technology (IT) tools in support of knowledge sharing in service organizations in Hong Kong. In a case study of five firms, the usage of IT tools is influenced by an array of factors acting as enablers, barriers, and motivators. The findings support extant theories on knowledge management (KM). This research discovers relationships between multiple factors and the usage of IT tools for knowledge sharing at various hierarchical levels. Operational factors like perceived usefulness, perceived ease of use, staff capability, and nature of work induce higher usage of IT for knowledge sharing. These findings and related analyses have managerial implications for firms engaging in service business.
Knowledge as a Resource to Increase Competitive Edge of Firms
Differential firm performance is attributed to variance in resource endowment (Penrose, 1959). According to Resource-Based View, a firm achieves competitive advantage with its unique resource (Barney, 1991). Knowledge is regarded as the most significant resource of a firm (Alavi & Leidner, 2001). The ability to integrate the knowledge of firm’s employees is a distinctive capability (Grant, 1996) and a dynamic resource (Spender, 1996), thus improving firm performance and enhancing its competitive advantage (Bogner & Bansal, 2007; Connell, 2004; Gold et al., 2001; Kogut & Zander, 1992; Sharkie, 2003; Zack, 1999).
Explicit knowledge is “knowing what” that is codified and can easily be communicated, while tacit knowledge refers to “knowing how” in a subject matter which can only be revealed through application (Grant, 1996). Knowledge is created through dynamic interactions among individuals in the form of socialization, combination, externalization and internalization (Nonaka, 1994). Exchange of information may also generate knowledge (Nahapiet & Ghoshal, 1998). Information is converted to knowledge once it is processed in the mind of individuals (Alavi & Leidner, 2001).