Information Influence in Mediated Knowledge Transfer: An Experimental Test of Elaboration Likelihood

Information Influence in Mediated Knowledge Transfer: An Experimental Test of Elaboration Likelihood

Kelly J. Fadel (Utah State University, USA), Alexandra Durcikova (The University of Arizona, USA) and Hoon S. Cha (Salisbury University, USA)
Copyright: © 2009 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/jkm.2009062902


Understanding knowledge transfer in computer mediated contexts is becoming essential given that organizations are spread more and more globally. In this article, the authors adopt elaboration likelihood theory to investigate knowledge transfer processes in a Knowledge Management System (KMS). They report the results of an exploratory experiment conducted to examine the impact of argument quality, source credibility and validation on knowledge usefulness of a document in a KMS. Their findings indicate that while validation of knowledge in KMS positively affects perceptions of knowledge usefulness, higher argument quality was associated with lower usefulness ratings. Surprisingly, source credibility has no effect on perceptions of knowledge usefulness. The implications of these results for both researchers and practitioners are discussed.
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In an effort to improve the productivity and efficiency of an entire organization, many companies are devoting great effort to managing their knowledge capital through centralized knowledge management systems (KMS). The role of KMS has become increasingly important as knowledge capital stored in the repository is no longer limited to the traditional customer and product data, but now includes valuable “best practices” that can be adopted and reused by individual employees through a meaningful knowledge transfer process. KMS can potentially support and enhance knowledge transfer by providing ready access to knowledge across personal, departmental, and organizational boundaries. However, implementing KMS alone does not ensure that successful knowledge transfer will occur. Rather, this outcome is realized only to the extent that the knowledge KMS provide is effectively processed, adopted, and utilized by individual knowledge users (Markus, 2001).

Researchers have recognized that KMS success depends on the quality of KMS (Jennex, 2008). However, research investigating the mechanisms that govern how individuals adopt and internalize KMS knowledge is scant; thus, little guidance is available for KM practitioners seeking to establish or enhance KMS-enabled knowledge transfer processes within their organizations. This paper addresses this void by presenting the results of an exploratory research study that investigates how individuals in an organization process and perceive the usefulness of knowledge retrieved from a knowledge repository. A survey was conducted in an experimental setting where subjects are asked to use a mock KMS to recommend a solution to a given IT authentication problem. We build and test hypotheses based on theories of information influence (Petty & Cacioppo, 1986; Petty, Cacioppo, & Goldman, 1981) and organizational knowledge transfer in mediated contexts (Sussman & Siegal, 2003) to better understand the process by which knowledge in a KMS is evaluated and used by individuals. The results of our experiment offer actionable insights for KM practitioners and point to several directions for future research in KMS-enabled knowledge transfer.

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