Social Loafing in Distributed Organization: An Empirical Study

Social Loafing in Distributed Organization: An Empirical Study

Xi Zhang (Institute of Policy and Management, Chinese Academy of Scineces and Center for Innovation and Development, CAS, China)
DOI: 10.4018/jabim.2011100105
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This study investigates how social loafing indirectly influences the knowledge sharing behavior in the context of IT-enabled distributed organization. In this high social loafing environment, we found the individual favor benefits may negatively moderate the relationship between economic and social strategies and knowledge contribution. This study provides some suggestions for the management of virtual organizations in supporting strategies design, knowledge contribution encouragement and member selection.
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Literature Review

Costs and Benefits of Knowledge Sharing

Numerous studies have investigated KS from the cost-benefit perspective (Kankanhalli et al., 2005; Lin, 2007). Kankanhalli et al. (2005) have identified the social and individual cost and benefit factors in knowledge contribution in the electronic knowledge repository. Based on Kankanhalli et al.’s (2005) framework, the benefits include organizational reward, image and reciprocity.

  • Organizational rewards: Organizational rewards include monetary incentives such as bonuses, and non-monetary awards such as job security (Davenport & Prusak, 1998). One fundamental motivation of sharing knowledge is getting rewards for contributions (Fey & Furu, 2008; Kankanhalli et al., 2005; Lee & Ahn, 2007; Wolfe & Loraas, 2008).

  • Reciprocity: Reciprocity is a social benefit of individuals engaged in social exchange (Blau, 1964). Reciprocity of KS refers to the belief that current knowledge contribution will lead to future help from others (Lin, 2007).

  • Image: Contributors may receive intra-organizational respect for KS behavior (Kankanhalli et al., 2005).

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