New Perspectives on Rewards and Knowledge Sharing

New Perspectives on Rewards and Knowledge Sharing

Gee-Woo ("Gilbert") Bock (National University of Singapore, Singapore), Chen Way Siew (IBM Consulting Services, Singapore) and Young-Gul Kim (KAIST, Korea)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-026-4.ch449
OnDemand PDF Download:
$37.50

Abstract

Of the 260 responses from a survey of European multinationals, 94% believed that knowledge management requires employees to share what they know with others within the organization (Murray, 1999). Among the processes of knowledge management—creation, sharing, utilization and accumulation of knowledge—sharing is what differentiates organizational knowledge management from individual learning or knowledge acquisition. However, the process of sharing knowledge is often unnatural to many. Individuals will not share knowledge that is regarded to be of high value and importance. In fact, the natural tendency for individuals is to hoard knowledge or look suspiciously at the knowledge of others. Thus, incentive schemes—where employees receive incentives as a form of compensation for their contributions—are common programs in many organizations. Such schemes have met their fair share of success as well as failure in the field of knowledge management. On the one hand, the carrot and stick principle used in Siemens’ ShareNet project turned out to be a success (Ewing & Keenan, 2001). On the other hand, the redemption points used in Samsung Life Insurance’s Knowledge Mileage Program only resulted in the increasingly selfish behavior of its employees (Hyoung & Moon, 2002). Furthermore, despite the plethora of research on factors affecting knowledge sharing behavior, little concerns discovering effective ways to encourage individuals to voluntarily share their knowledge. Early studies on knowledge management began by trying to discover key factors pertaining to knowledge management in general, instead of knowledge sharing in particular, as summarized in Table 1. Although research on knowledge sharing started around the mid 1990s, it focused mainly on knowledge sharing at the group or organizational level in spite of the fact that knowledge itself actually originates from the individual. Even at the group or organizational level, most studies dealt with a specific knowledge type, such as best practices (Szulanski, 1996) or a specific context, such as between dispersed teams (Tsai, 2002). In addition, factors such as trust, willingness to share, information about the knowledge holder, and the level of codification of knowledge were considered in abstract. Although these factors are valuable, they require further empirical research before they could be used to explain the individual’s fundamental motivation to share knowledge. Thus, this study aims to develop an understanding of the factors that support or constrain the individual’s knowledge sharing behavior in the organization, with a special interest in the role of rewards. This is done according to Fishbein and Ajzen’s (1975) Theory of Reasoned Action (TRA), a widely accepted social psychology model that is used to explain almost any human behavior (Ajzen & Fishbein, 1980).
Chapter Preview
Top

Introduction

Of the 260 responses from a survey of European multinationals, 94% believed that knowledge management requires employees to share what they know with others within the organization (Murray, 1999). Among the processes of knowledge management—creation, sharing, utilization and accumulation of knowledge—sharing is what differentiates organizational knowledge management from individual learning or knowledge acquisition.

However, the process of sharing knowledge is often unnatural to many. Individuals will not share knowledge that is regarded to be of high value and importance. In fact, the natural tendency for individuals is to hoard knowledge or look suspiciously at the knowledge of others. Thus, incentive schemes—where employees receive incentives as a form of compensation for their contributions—are common programs in many organizations. Such schemes have met their fair share of success as well as failure in the field of knowledge management. On the one hand, the carrot and stick principle used in Siemens’ ShareNet project turned out to be a success (Ewing & Keenan, 2001). On the other hand, the redemption points used in Samsung Life Insurance’s Knowledge Mileage Program only resulted in the increasingly selfish behavior of its employees (Hyoung & Moon, 2002).

Furthermore, despite the plethora of research on factors affecting knowledge sharing behavior, little concerns discovering effective ways to encourage individuals to voluntarily share their knowledge. Early studies on knowledge management began by trying to discover key factors pertaining to knowledge management in general, instead of knowledge sharing in particular, as summarized in Table 1. Although research on knowledge sharing started around the mid 1990s, it focused mainly on knowledge sharing at the group or organizational level in spite of the fact that knowledge itself actually originates from the individual. Even at the group or organizational level, most studies dealt with a specific knowledge type, such as best practices (Szulanski, 1996) or a specific context, such as between dispersed teams (Tsai, 2002). In addition, factors such as trust, willingness to share, information about the knowledge holder, and the level of codification of knowledge were considered in abstract. Although these factors are valuable, they require further empirical research before they could be used to explain the individual’s fundamental motivation to share knowledge. Thus, this study aims to develop an understanding of the factors that support or constrain the individual’s knowledge sharing behavior in the organization, with a special interest in the role of rewards. This is done according to Fishbein and Ajzen’s (1975) Theory of Reasoned Action (TRA), a widely accepted social psychology model that is used to explain almost any human behavior (Ajzen & Fishbein, 1980).

Table 1.
Factors affecting knowledge management and knowledge sharing
FactorsReferences
Knowledge ManagementKnowledge management system, Network, Knowledge worker, Clear vision and goals, Middle-up-down management, Organizational change, Monitoring and support, Knowledge infrastructure, Knowledge repository and map, Organizational culture, Top manager’s support Davenport, De Long, and Beers (1998); Davenport and Prusak (1998); Earl (1996); Nonaka and Takeuchi (1995); Ulrich (1998); Wiig (1997)
Knowledge SharingThe Group and Organizational Level
Level of trust between groups, Arduous relationship between source and the recipient, Role of top managers, Characteristics of knowledge, Prior experience on knowledge transfer, Channel richness, Openness of the organization
Butler (1999); Gupta and Govindarajan (2000); Kogut and Zander (1993); Nelson and Cooprider (1996); Szulanski (1996); Wathne, Roos and Krogh (1996)
The Individual Level
Trust between individuals, Willingness to share, Information about the knowledge holder, Level of codification of knowledge
Hansen (1999); Kramer (1999); Moreland (1999); Stasser, Stewart, and Wittenbaum (1995); Tsai and Ghoshal (1998)

Key Terms in this Chapter

Explicit Knowledge: Knowledge that has been captured and codified into manuals, procedures, and rules, and is easy to disseminate ( Stenmark, 2000 ).

Intrinsic Rewards: Incentives that are mediated within a person, such as satisfaction ( Deci, 1972b ).

Knowledge Management System: A knowledge repository, shared knowledge base or knowledge based system, which is a class of information systems developed to support and enhance the organizational processes of knowledge creation, storage / retrieval, transfer and application ( Alavi & Leidner, 2001 ).

Organizational Norm: Organization culture or climate, which consists of the shared values, beliefs and practices of the people in the organization ( McDermott & O’Dell, 2001 ).

Tacit Knowledge: Knowledge that cannot be easily articulated, and thus only exists in people’s minds, and is manifested through their actions ( Stenmark, 2000 ).

Knowledge Sharing: Voluntary activities of transferring or disseminating knowledge between people or groups in an organization ( Bock, Zmud, Kim & Lee, 2003 ).

Extrinsic Rewards: Incentives that are mediated outside of a person, such as praises and monetary compensation ( Deci, 1972b ).

Implicit Knowledge: Knowledge that can be expressed in verbal, symbolic, or written form but has yet to be expressed ( Bock, Zmud, Kim, & Lee, 2003 ).

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book:
Reset