Knowledge Sharing, Organizational Climate, and Innovative Behavior: A Cross-Level Analysis of Effects

Article excerpt

During the industrial revolution, land, labor, and capital were the essential elements of production. However, in the society of the early 21st century, traditional production elements have been replaced by knowledge (Drucker, 1993), which has become the main resource for products and services. To survive in a highly competitive environment, enterprises must continue to focus on innovation derived from knowledge. An organization can create new values to improve its development and growth through knowledge sharing (Bock & Kim, 2002) and these values then have positive effects on producing new products or services through interactions among departments (Armbrecht et al., 2001; Tsai, 2000).

When organizations are facing a competitive environment with transnational, transorganizational, transteam, and transspecialty characteristics, knowledge sharing should achieve transdisciplinary integration and those working to promote knowledge sharing in their organization should identify and utilize factors that promote knowledge sharing at multiple levels instead of focusing only on sharing and transfer itself (Lin, 2005; Williams & Anderson, 1991). Previous studies that have been conducted have mainly been based on individual level analyses, such as the effect of knowledge transfer among employees on work satisfaction and innovative behavior. However, researchers should investigate beyond the effects of single-level factors on member behavior in an organization (Brief & Motowidlo, 1986; Cheng et al., 2010; Lin, 2007; Organ, 1990; Podsakoff, Ahearne, & MacKenzie, 1997; Seibert, Silver, & Randolph, 2004; Wen & Chiou, 2009b).

Innovation is one of the elements that serve as effective tools for business survival and sustainability. Woodman, Sawyer, and Griffin (1993) proposed an interactive model of organizational innovation, in which personal innovation is influenced by cognitive ability, character, knowledge, inner motives, and social networks; team innovation is influenced by personal innovation, team characteristics, and contextual factors; and organizational innovation is influenced by team innovation and contextual factors. According to knowledge spiral theory, the four abilities of personal knowledge transformation are socialization, externalization, combination, and internalization, and these are conducive to knowledge creation and exchange (Huang & Wang, 2008; Nonaka & Takeuchi, 1995; Nonaka & Toyama, 2003). When creative ideas are generated in an organizational context, employees are more affected by their work environment Increased team support in an organization will create an environment where employees can receive encouragement and praise from their organization or superiors, so as to develop further a climate of organizational innovation encouraging innovative behavior or creativity of employees more appropriately. (Amabile, 1996; Montes, Moreno, & Fernandez, 2003). Based on these conditions, personal and organizational factors influence knowledge sharing and innovation. An examination of knowledge sharing and innovation from a single-level perspective is inadequate to cover the effects observed at an organizational level (Montes et al., 2003). Therefore, in this study we examined contextual effects on innovative behavior at an individual level (knowledge sharing) and at an organizational level (organizational innovation climate).

Few cross-level empirical studies have been conducted because of limitations in statistical analysis (Klein & Kozlowski, 2000). In recent years, cross-level analytical models have been developed that have enabled researchers to explore the effect of industrial, organizational, or group/team factors on individual behavior (Cheng et al., 2010; Hofmann, Morgeson, & Gerras, 2003; Liao & Chuang, 2004; Lin, 2007; Seibert et al., 2004; Wen & Chiou, 2009b). Hierarchical linear modeling (HLM) allows cross-level analysis to be applied at individual, group, and organizational levels simultaneously (Hofmann, 1997; Hofmann & Gavin, 1998; Hofmann, Griffin, & Gavin, 2000). …