The Effect of Different Motivation Factors on Knowledge-Sharing Willingness and Behavior

By Liu, Wen-Chung; Fang, Chen-Ling | Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal, July 2010 | Go to article overview
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The Effect of Different Motivation Factors on Knowledge-Sharing Willingness and Behavior

Liu, Wen-Chung, Fang, Chen-Ling, Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Different types of organizations have different sources of motivation for choosing to provide satisfying social services. Nonprofit organization (NPO) staff members may also differ in their knowledge-sharing willingness and behavior because of different extrinsic or intrinsic motivation factors. One of the objectives of social welfare NPOs is to understand the statistical population characteristics of volunteers and social workers. Most of the workers in Taiwan's NPO are female. The flat hierarchy structure of an NPO, and the salary and promotion opportunities which cannot compete with those of business organizations are the reasons that men are less willing to work for NPOs. Most workers at NPOs are between 21 and 30 years old, with 1-5 years service and a university or college qualification. Many of the long-term workers are retired people. If a more effective system to retain young, talented people is not set up, then it is difficult for the institutional knowledge of the NPO to be retained and passed on. Secondly, researchers should determine, from a knowledge provider's perspective, whether or not different motivational factors create different levels of knowledge-sharing willingness and behavior. This was the primary objective in this study. However, even when an organization's members are willing to externalize knowledge by sharing it, they must actually transmit it to their coworkers in order to make use of this knowledge. Therefore, the second objective in this study was to investigate the relationship between knowledge-sharing willingness and behavior. Motivation can be classified as internal or external motivation, depending on its source. Internal motivation represents an internal value of an individual toward the work itself (Deci & Ryan, 1985). External motivation represents an external value that is not directly related to work itself, but is primarily based on personal values and expectations (Deci & Ryan). However, internal and external motivations are not mutually exclusive, and both can exist in an individual at the same time, at different levels of intensity. Herzberg (2003) identified several behavioral-based factors that encourage people to work, classifying these as hygiene factors and motivation factors. From this perspective, an individual is willing to share knowledge if the reward gained will be bigger than the cost paid (Davenport & Prusak, 1998). Three kinds of reward factors may be involved: reputation, mutual benefit, and altruism.



In this study national charities listed in the 2003 Social Welfare Philanthropy Foundation Directory published by the Taiwanese Department of Social Affairs were examined. A total of 375 copies of the questionnaire compiled for this study were mailed to respondents, and 341 copies were returned, five of which were invalid. In total, 336 valid copies were retained, giving a return rate of 89.6%. Approximately one quarter (23.28%) of the respondents were male and 76.72% were female. The largest age category in the sample was 21 to 30 years old, accounting for 40.12% of respondents. The largest educational background category was university or college education, at 57.49%. Within the sample, 55.39% were full-time staff and 36.83% were volunteers with the organizations. The average length of experience was 1-5 years, accounting for 49.29% of the sample.


In this study a knowledge-sharing motivation scale was used based on the Work Preference Inventory (WPI) proposed by Amabile, Hennessey, and Tighe in 1994. To measure the altruistic characteristics of internal motivation, the altruistic dimension of the Organizational Citizenship Behavior measuring scale developed by Organ (1998) was used with only slight revision. The researchers identified mutual benefits of external motivation using the definition of mutual benefits provided by Davenport and Prusak (1998). The questionnaire used in this study was aimed at measuring internal motivation (motivation and altruistic characteristics) and external motivation (hygiene factors, reputation, and mutual benefits).

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