The Impact of Leadership Style on Knowledge Sharing Intentions in China

The Impact of Leadership Style on Knowledge Sharing Intentions in China

Qian Huang (University of Science and Technology of China – City University of Hong Kong Joint Advanced Research Centre, China), Robert M. Davison (City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong), Hefu Liu (University of Science and Technology of China – City University of Hong Kong Joint Advanced Research Centre, China) and Jibao Gu (University of Science and Technology of China, China)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-783-8.ch620

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Introduction

It is necessary for companies to organize their knowledge in order to succeed in today’s economy (Davenport & Prusak, 1998). This is also consistent with the knowledge based view of companies: knowledge could help a company maintain its competitive advantage (Kearns & Lederer, 2003). However, knowledge is kept in the human b rain, as well as in documents, and it has been suggested that people tend to turn to other people for information rather than documents and intranets (Allen, 1977; Cross & Sproull, 2004). What is more, knowledge sharing is needed when people attempt to solve complicated or unstructured problems (Augier, Shariq & Vendelo, 2001). Thus, knowledge sharing between employees is quite a significant issue considering its potential impact on enhancing the effectiveness of firms (Cummings, 2004). Since it has been suggested that hoarding knowledge is an inherently human characteristic (Davenport & Prusak, 1998), knowledge sharing behavior could only be encouraged rather than mandated. Therefore, much research has focused on how to encourage employees to share knowledge within and across organizations (Tezuka & Niwa, 2004; Voelpel & Han, 2005).

In prior research which investigated how people can be encouraged to share knowledge, researchers have normally taken a variety of viewpoints, considering: managerial factors (Lin & Lee, 2004; Srivastava & Bartol, 2006); organizational factors (Cummings, 2004; Kolekofski & Heminger, 2003; Southon, Todd & Seneque, 2002); cultural factors (Kyriakidou, 2004; Reid, 2003) and so on. Recently, many researchers have recognised realized the importance of leadership in knowledge management (Chen & Barnes, 2006). However, relatively little attention has been paid to the detailed processes by which leadership style would exert an impact on knowledge management activities. In fact, it is believed that leadership has a direct impact on the way companies arrange knowledge management initiatives because leaders could set the example for employees (Bell, Dyer, Hoopes & Harris, 2004). More importantly, much research has recognized that managers could provide a supportive atmosphere and culture which could help to encourage employees to share their knowledge (McDermott, 2000).

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