The Impact of National Cultural Values on Intrinsic Motivation to Transfer Tacit Knowledge

The Impact of National Cultural Values on Intrinsic Motivation to Transfer Tacit Knowledge

Nicole Amanda Celestine (University of Western Australia, Business School, Crawley, Australia) and Chris Perryer (University of Western Australia, Business School, Crawley, Australia)
Copyright: © 2016 |Pages: 19
DOI: 10.4018/IJKM.2016100101
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This study examines the moderating effects of individuals' national cultural values on intrinsic motivation to engage in tacit knowledge transfer, through the lens of knowledge coaching. Using partial least squares analysis, survey data from 26 district managers (knowledge coaches) and 102 territory managers (protégés) from a large MNC's subsidiaries in Denmark, Ireland, Japan, Norway, Sweden and the UK is examined. In the first model, appertaining to the knowledge coaches, long-term orientation positively moderated the path between intrinsic motivation and perceived selling skill acquisition. For the corresponding pathway in the protégé model, collectivism and power distance attenuated the pathway. The implications for managers in terms of fostering intrinsic motivation to engage in knowledge transfer across a diversity of employees, and avenues for future research are discussed.
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Knowledge transfer (KT) has rapidly emerged as a critical, cross-disciplinary issue. According to the knowledge-based view of the firm, knowledge serves as a principal source of competitive advantage (Spender & Grant, 1996). To put this in perspective, the approaching retirement of the baby boomer generation presents a looming threat to the corporate memory of human capital organisations, that rely on scarce expert talent as a means of offering value to their customers (Foss, 2007). Such a threat warrants urgent research, to better understand the influencers of KT effectiveness, so that valuable knowledge can be properly passed on to the next generation of employees.

While there is a plethora of research on inter-organisational KT and the factors that maximise or inhibit its effectiveness (see Van Wijk, Jansen & Lyles, 2008), research on effective intra-organisational knowledge transfer is surprisingly lacking. Further, Wilkesmann, Fischer and Wilkesmann (2009) note that the bulk of the literature regarding KT has focused on organisational and network characteristics when attempting to better understand how to maximise KT effectiveness. This finding is reflected in meta-analyses (Jacks, Wallace & Nemati, 2012), revealing the clear dominance of studies analysing the effects of organisational culture and leadership on knowledge processes. Thus, there have been extensive calls for research on person-level influencers of KT effectiveness (Rechberg & Syed, 2014).

Recent studies have shown that self-efficacy (Cabrera, Collins & Salgado, 2006; Kalman, 1999), Big Five personality dimensions (Cho, Zheng & Su, 2007; Matzler, Renzl, Mooradian, von Krogh & Mueller, 2011), and organisational commitment (Cabrera, Collins & Salgado, 2006) all bear an influence on KT and knowledge sharing behaviours. However, despite the fact that national culture has exhibited substantial predictive power in organisation-level models of knowledge transfer motivation and effectiveness (Magnier, Watanabe & Senoo, 2010), there is yet to be an individual-level analysis of national cultural values’ impact on KT. This research therefore seeks to examine whether national cultural values bear an influence on intra-organisational KT motivation, and thus, whether consideration of national cultural values can aid in the development of more parsimonious models of intra-organisational KT effectiveness.

In order to strengthen the growing body of knowledge management literature, this paper analyses the moderating role of individually possessed national cultural values on intrinsic motivation to transfer tacit knowledge, while taking care to avoid fallacious treatments of culture as unvarying and monolithic. Such a contribution is unique given that the literature combining the areas of motivation, national cultural values and knowledge management is notably sparse. This is perhaps due to the ecological clumsiness involved in combining the three areas; studies on national culture are usually focused on the country level, the overwhelming majority of the knowledge management literature is on the organisational level (Minbaeva, Mäkelä & Rabbiosi, 2012), while studies on motivation are usually on the individual level due to their roots in behavioural psychology.

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