The Role of Motivation, Ability, and Opportunity in Achieving Effective Knowledge-Work: Knowledge Work and MAO

The Role of Motivation, Ability, and Opportunity in Achieving Effective Knowledge-Work: Knowledge Work and MAO

Rezvan Hosseingholizadeh (Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Department of Education, Mashhad, Iran), Somayyeh Ebrahimi Koushk Mahdi (Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Department of Education, Mashhad, Iran) and Hadi El-Farr (Rutgers University, School of Management and Labor Relations, Piscataway, NJ, USA)
Copyright: © 2016 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/IJKM.2016100102
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This study aims to empirically test the impact of the Motivation-Ability-Opportunity- (MAO) model on knowledge work. We propose that knowledge work is a function of employees' motivation, ability and opportunity. In this regard, the aim is to provide empirical support to explain the effects of motivation, ability and opportunity on knowledge-work, which we defined as a knowledge-centered behavior. Data was collected through a self-report questionnaire. A sample size of 350 employees of Ferdowsi University of Mashhad answered the questionnaire. Structural equation modeling techniques and hierarchical multiple regression analyses were conducted on hypothesis testing. The findings confirm that motivation, ability and opportunity independently influence knowledge-work behavior. Also, results revealed that both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation has significant influence on knowledge work; however intrinsic motivation has a higher effect than extrinsic motivation.
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Scholars are increasingly highlighting the role of knowledge management (KM) in achieving better decision making and problem solving (Alavi & Leidner, 2001; Hoq & Akter, 2012). The most prominent literature on KM has viewed it as an organizational initiative - emphasizing the importance of organizational factors that influence KM effectiveness. KM is a system that aims to improve organizational effectiveness (Jennex, Smolnik & Croasdell, 2009). From this perspective, KM success within firms is a function of technological, organizational and environmental factors; including strategy, leadership/management support, knowledge content, processes, technology and structure (e.g. Yew Wong, 2005; Jennex & Olfman, 2005; Jennex, et al., 2009; 2012; Basu & Sengupta, 2007; Lin, 2014; Sedighi, van Splunter, Zand & Brazier, 2015).

That said the literature has focused less on the role of individual employees in the KM discourse (Muhammed, Doll & Deng, 2009; Hoq & Akter, 2012). Scholars focusing on the Human Resources perspective of KM have argued that the human capital has the most potential to serve as a source of competitive advantage (Jiang, Lepak, Hu & Baer, 2012). Employees are supposed to be able to identify and solve difficult and complex problems, counting on their abilities, imagination, creativity and high-level of education (Rao, 2010). Employees – knowledge workers – are the ones who are engaged in knowledge-work activities, and within them resides KM success (Hoq & Akter, 2012). From this perspective, other factors in the KM system are viewed as merely enablers to KM success.

Traditionally KM focused on explicit knowledge (knowledge-codification) and organizational knowledge. Linking the individual-knowledge perspective to organizational success suggests a shift from traditional KM to personal KM (PKM) – focusing on individual and tacit knowledge (Cheong & Tsui, 2011; Muhammed et al., 2009). Knowledge workers add value to organizations due their tacit-knowledge and their ability to transfer it into work activities (Davis, 2002; Mládková, 2012). They depend on their personal-knowledge more than the organizational-knowledge in work activities (El-Farr, 2009). Due to the intangibility of tacit-knowledge, knowledge workers are difficult to manage, yet utilizing appropriate practices to enable them provides organizations with a unique competitive advantage (Mládková, 2012).

How to manage, improve and measure knowledge-work became central in the literature - arguing that effective knowledge-work activities such as knowledge creation, sharing and application are core goals for effective KM systems (Timonen & Paloheimo, 2011; Palvalin, Vuolle, Jääskeläinen, Laihonen, & Lönnqvist, 2015). That said, effective knowledge-work is mostly dependent on the performance of individual knowledge workers who drive the success of knowledge-intensive organizations (Drucker, 1998; Rao, 2006).

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