Spreading the Light of Knowledge: Nexus of Job Satisfaction, Psychological Safety and Trust

Spreading the Light of Knowledge: Nexus of Job Satisfaction, Psychological Safety and Trust

Jatinder Kumar Jha (Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, India) and Jatin Pandey (Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad, India)
Copyright: © 2016 |Pages: 18
DOI: 10.4018/IJKM.2016070103
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Abstract

Given the strategic importance of knowledge in current competitive business environment, it becomes imperative to unfold the possible avenues to motivate the employees to share knowledge with fellow-members in the organization. The article investigates, mechanism of influence of job satisfaction on knowledge sharing behavior of Indian IT- professionals from the lens of social-exchange theory and Job demands-Resources (JD-R) model. A longitudinal study of 106 respondents from Indian IT firms indicates that job satisfaction directly and indirectly encourages the individual to share their knowledge. Specifically, the authors found trust in management and psychological safety mediated this relationship. Implications of their findings for practice and limitations of the study and directions for future research have also been discussed.
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Introduction

Knowledge has always been one of the key success factors when it comes to gaining and sustaining a competitive advantage (e.g., Jiang, Bao, Xie and Gao, 2016; Mueller, 2014; Spender & Grant, 1996), especially in a high-knowledge intensive workplace like IT firms. The competitive advantage of knowledge can be realized through its creation and dissemination across the organization (Alvesson, 1995). This is made possible by sharing that knowledge among organizational members. Having said that, the next question is, how does one motivate employees to share their knowledge with fellow members of the organization? There is no straight answer here. Thus, exploring the factors that trigger knowledge-sharing behavior among employees has become an important area of research (Zhang et al., 2012). IT-firms are project-based organizations where employees work on different projects as a team. A project team consists of members from different departments, domains, and sometimes from different geographical locations (Hsu, Yang, & Huang, 2011). Success of the project team depends upon the synergy derived from complementary skills of project members (Davis, 2009), which can be achieved through effective knowledge sharing (Mueller, 2014). These firms operate in highly volatile business markets, which require dynamic capabilities on the part of these firms in order for them to sustain.

IT professionals possess tacit knowledge, which is personal and immersed in an individual’s thought, behavior, and perception. This makes it difficult to share (Nonaka & Takeuchi, 1995). Also, tacit knowledge cannot be codified in writing (Blackler, 1995). Therefore, an IT professional’s knowledge-sharing process is different from the other traditional workers (e.g., Cabrera & Cabrera, 2002; Assimakopulos & Yan, 2006; Liu & Liu, 2008). Liu and Phillips (2011) studied the antecedents of knowledge sharing, leading to team innovativeness using a sample of R&D teams. This learning is facilitated if team members share their past experiences and effectively work with fellow team members. Willingness to share knowledge is influenced by psychological as well as organizational factors (Cabrera et al., 2006).

Knowledge sharing is about exchanging one’s own experiences and insight with fellow members of the organization to create value-added benefits (Ryu, Ho & Han, 2003). Organizations strive to create knowledge bases to unbundle the several benefits associated with it. Employees, especially in knowledge-intensive firms, are encouraged to share thoughts, ideas and new learning to help the company sustain in a dynamic and competitive environment. Existing research suggests employee do a cost-benefits analysis before sharing their knowledge at the workplace (Connolly, Thorn, & Heminger, 1992; Jennex, & Olfman 2005: 2006, Jennex, 2008a) i.e. the cost associated with sharing knowledge and rewards when sharing such a resource with others.

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