An Empirical Study of Knowledge Sharing Intention within Virtual Teams

An Empirical Study of Knowledge Sharing Intention within Virtual Teams

Yajiong Xue (East Carolina University, USA), Huigang Liang (East Carolina University, USA), Richard Hauser (East Carolina University, USA) and Margaret T. O’Hara (East Carolina University, USA)
Copyright: © 2012 |Pages: 15
DOI: 10.4018/jkm.2012070103
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Abstract

Given that many organizational tasks are accomplished by people working as virtual teams, it’s important to understand team members’ knowledge sharing behavior. This study attempts to explore social cognitive factors influencing knowledge sharing in the team-based context. Based on a survey of 183 participants of team projects, this study finds that team climate, sense of self-worth, and past sharing behavior lead to positive attitude toward knowledge sharing. Moreover, attitude toward knowledge sharing and past sharing behavior have a positive impact on knowledge sharing intention. These findings can help managers design work teams to stimulate collaboration and improve performance.
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Research Model And Hypotheses

Knowledge sharing concerns the willingness and behavior of individuals in an organization to share with others the knowledge they have acquired or created (Gibbert & Krause, 2002). The sharing could be done directly via communication or indirectly via knowledge archives. Willingness is vital for knowledge sharing to occur because knowledge largely resides within each individual. Other than the individual himself or herself, nobody knows exactly what and how much knowledge he or she possesses. It would be practically impossible to force one to share knowledge without knowing what he or she knows (Bock et al., 2005). Thus, knowledge sharing is largely a volitional behavior and can only be encouraged and facilitated (Gibbert & Krause, 2002).

Prior research has identified a number of factors that influence knowledge sharing, among which three factors are highly relevant to our research context: team climate, procedural justice, and an individual’s intrinsic sense of self-worth. Team climate reflects social influences originating from teammates. Procedural justice is concerned with whether the reward allocation process is fair. For example, a member might be reluctant to share knowledge with a teammate who is less competent but receive a higher salary. Sense of self-worth suggests one’s intrinsic motivation to perform knowledge sharing. It is important because not all knowledge sharing behaviors can be monitored and receive extrinsic rewards. In addition, we contend that previous knowledge sharing behavior is likely to nurture a positive attitude toward subsequent knowledge sharing and enhance the intention to share knowledge in the future. Therefore, we develop the following research model to predict knowledge sharing behavior of virtual team members (Figure 1).

Figure 1.

Research model

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