The Influence of Emotional Intelligence on Tacit Knowledge Sharing in Service Organizations

The Influence of Emotional Intelligence on Tacit Knowledge Sharing in Service Organizations

Abdul Kadir Othman (Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM), Malaysia) and Hazman Shah Abdullah (Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM), Malaysia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61692-886-5.ch010
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The challenge of knowledge management is to generate, share, exploit and renew knowledge faster than competitors. To achieve sustainable competitive advantage, the knowledge management strategy is to develop and share tacit knowledge so that organizational capabilities rest in many, if not all, employees. In team-work environment, emotional intelligence, trust and organizational citizenship behavior are crucial to tacit knowledge sharing. Emotional intelligence as the ability to control one’s and others’ emotions, among other abilities, will facilitate the sharing of high value tacit knowledge, of work and clients, among team members. The road to a trusting relationship is marked by inter-personal understanding and empathic communication between members leading potentially to organizational citizenship behavior. Organizational citizenship behavior which manifests the employees’ commitment to the job and organization is a significant mediator in tacit knowledge sharing. However, the role of emotional intelligence in facilitating tacit knowledge sharing is constrained by the type of service environment, i.e. professional, service shop and mass service which limits the scope for tacit knowledge sharing. This chapter offers several testable propositions to explain the influence of emotional intelligence on tacit knowledge sharing in service businesses.
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Definition Of Knowledge

Davenport and Prusak (1998) defined knowledge as “a fluid of framed experience, values, contextual information, and expert insights that provides a framework for evaluating and incorporating new experiences and information. It originates in and is applied in the minds of knowers”. Nonaka and Takeuchi (1995) defined knowledge in a broader perspective which is “a dynamic human process of justifying personal belief toward the truth”. Two types of knowledge reside in an organization – explicit and tacit knowledge (Nonaka, 1991). Explicit knowledge is knowledge that can be codified therefore it is easily shared and communicated via organization databases, hence making it available to all members of the organizations. Explicit knowledge also refers to rationalized knowledge which is general, context independent, standardized, and public (Weiss, 1999).

Tacit knowledge comprises mental models, beliefs and persuasions of each employee that are so deeply rooted within the individual and is difficult to express in words. Tacit knowledge also refers to embedded knowledge which is context dependent, narrowly applicable, personalized, and may be personally or professionally sensitive (Weiss, 1999). It sometimes refers to practical intelligence (Wagner & Sternberg, 1985), common sense (Sternberg, 1985) or street smart (Horvath et al., 1994). Tacit knowledge is seldom communicated and hence, seldom shared because it is subjective and intuitive in nature and it is lost when the employee possessing it leaves the organization. Examples of individual tacit knowledge are self-motivation, adaptability and flexibility and customer service experience, which generally refer to the blend of complex individual’s abilities to accomplish work effectively.

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