Academic journal article Informing Science: the International Journal of an Emerging Transdiscipline

Understanding the Antecedents of Knowledge Sharing: An Organizational Justice Perspective

Academic journal article Informing Science: the International Journal of an Emerging Transdiscipline

Understanding the Antecedents of Knowledge Sharing: An Organizational Justice Perspective

Article excerpt

Introduction

The informing science framework considers three distinct areas: the informing environment, the delivery system, and the task-completion system. At the foundation of informing science is the notion that data, information and knowledge are interdependent entities that continuously interact with each other (Gackowski, 2012). Nevertheless, there are different views on the nature of knowledge, and these varying perspectives have different implications for organizations seeking to gain a competitive advantage. If knowledge is viewed as a resource, then the organizational efforts focus on 'managing' knowledge similar to managing other factors of production, for example inventory control levels or scheduling deliveries. On the other hand, the process perspective of knowledge includes managing the human side of the equation and identifying ways of facilitating knowledge exchange. If it is not a resource to be stockpiled as a factor of production, but rather a meaning to be achieved through sharing in a community (Boland, 1987), then it is imperative to identify factors that contribute to enhancing the informing environment. This study takes this later perspective and explores the individual motivations for knowledge sharing. Specifically, the current research proposes and empirically tests a model that combines the Theory of Reasoned Action (TRA) with Organizational Justice Theory and argues that perceptions of organizational justice are crucial building blocks of the knowledge-sharing environment.

Prior research found that TRA developed by Ajzen and Fishbein (1973) is useful in predicting the intention to share knowledge and that social-psychological and sociological factors are crucial to knowledge sharing (Bock, Zmud, Kim, & Lee, 2005). Applying organizational justice components to knowledge sharing processes, this study posits that knowledge sharing will occur when parties engaged in the process feel that (1) their inputs into the exchange relationship are adequately rewarded by benefits gained, (2) the procedures are fair and just, and (3) they are treated with dignity and respect by other parties. These distributive, procedural, and interactional factors will determine the willingness to engage in the knowledge-sharing partnership. The overall research question is: What impact do the perceptions of organizational justice have on individual attitude, subjective norm, and intentions to share knowledge?

A key contribution of this study is the creation of a theoretical model combining organizational theory and TRA concepts to investigate knowledge sharing behaviors through the lens of equity. Review of the literature shows that this was not previously done. This research provides empirical evidence to support the theoretical argument of the importance of procedural, distributive, and interactional justice to the perception of subjective norms that influence attitudes and intentions to share knowledge. Cohen's (2009) updated informing science framework highlights the fact that the informer is influenced by his or her psychological "fragilities," operating within, and influenced by, the environmental context. This study significantly contributes to the literature by investigating these complexities. The current research shows that the informer (the individual sharing knowledge) is influenced indeed by his or her psychological fragilities in the form of attitudes and subjective norms. The environmental context, in terms of organizational justice, is important in shaping attitudes and influencing knowledge sharing behavior.

The rest of the paper is organized as follows: theoretical background and previous research on knowledge sharing, TRA and Organizational Justice are presented first, followed by the research model and hypotheses, proposing specific relationships between TRA and Organizational Justice constructs and knowledge sharing. Research methodology and data analysis are followed by discussion and implications for practice and research along with conclusions for the paper. …

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