Academic journal article Public Personnel Management

HR Practices and Knowledge Sharing Behavior: Focusing on the Moderating Effect of Trust in Supervisor

Academic journal article Public Personnel Management

HR Practices and Knowledge Sharing Behavior: Focusing on the Moderating Effect of Trust in Supervisor

Article excerpt

Introduction

In the era of the knowledge-based economy, knowledge management has increasingly captured the interest and attention of researchers and practitioners. As knowledge has become an increasingly important source of an organization's competitiveness, organizations must make certain that knowledge is managed in the most effective manner possible. Knowledge management refers to organizational practices for developing, sharing, and applying knowledge within the organization to gain and sustain a competitive advantage (Edvardsson, 2008). Previous studies, however, have overemphasized the managerial system that gathers, organizes, and stores existing knowledge (e.g., Markus, 2001), which may have resulted in an underestimation of knowledge sharing in the organization. The highest hurdle to successful knowledge management is typically making organizational members share the knowledge that resides in their minds (Desouza, 2003) though developing and applying knowledge are also important components in keeping an organization competitive. To make retiring public employees share their knowledge (e.g., tacit knowledge which is hard for organization to capture) is a particularly important issue for both practitioners and researchers preparing to address the coming wave of retirements in the public sector (Lewis & Cho, 2011). In addition, knowledge sharing behavior is vital to organizations because it is relevant to the creation of new knowledge that is an important factor of organizations' competitiveness as it is a prerequisite for future strength (Krogh, Ichijo, & Nonaka, 2000; Nonaka & Takeuchi, 1995). Therefore, organizations should find ways by which employees can engage in knowledge sharing for knowledge creation and its flow (Nonaka & Takeuchi, 1995).

Previous studies about knowledge sharing behavior revealed that knowledge sharing behavior is encouraged and facilitated rather than forced (Bock, Zmud, Kim, & Lee, 2005). As a result, there have been two different viewpoints for investigating knowledge sharing behavior. One focuses on an individual's personality (Matzler, Renzl, Muller, Herting, & Mooradian, 2008). The other pays attention to specific organizational interventions that may help organizations encourage knowledge sharing behavior (Cabrera, Collins, & Salgado, 2006; Levine, Higgins, & Choi, 2000). While many studies have investigated the influence of individuals' psychological characteristics on knowledge sharing behavior, relatively few studies have concerned themselves with organizational interventions that may help organizations encourage knowledge sharing behavior among their employees (Bock et al., 2005; Gibbert & Krause, 2002).

From the viewpoint of organizational interventions, human resource (HR) practices are essential for the promotion of knowledge sharing behavior within organizations (Currie & Kerrin, 2003). While previous studies have paid attentions to the impacts of HR practices on organizational outcomes, few explored the impact of HR practices on knowledge sharing behavior (e.g., Camelo-Ordaz, Garcia-Cruz, Sousa-Ginel, & Valle-Cabrera, 2011; Chiang, Han, & Chuang, 2011). In particular, there exists little empirical research on the effect HR practices have on employees' knowledge sharing behavior in public sector organizations.

In addition to HR practices, recent research on knowledge sharing has taken an interest in the role of managers in promoting the behavior. Ma, Cheng, Ribbens, and Zhou (2013) argued that leadership has a significant impact on enhancing employee attitudes and behaviors including knowledge sharing. Also, Liao (2008) found that social powers of managers, which means one's ability to influence a target person by changing or controlling the behavior, attitudes, opinions, objectives, needs, and values of the target person, have an indirect effect on employees' knowledge sharing behavior through trust. …

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