Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Effect of Interns' Learning Willingness on Mentors' Knowledge-Sharing Behavior

Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Effect of Interns' Learning Willingness on Mentors' Knowledge-Sharing Behavior

Article excerpt

Human capital has become the key to success for organizations in the intellectual economy age (Becker, 1993). In this regard, new employees may bring huge challenges to the management of organizations. For example, a lack of work experience may lead to problems such as poor performance and low organizational loyalty (Holton, 1996). Mentoring has emerged as one way to deal with these problems (Kram, 1983). However, although many researchers have discussed the beneficial effect of mentoring on the organization and new staff from the perspective of occupational development (Allen, Eby, Poteet, Lentz, & Lima, 2004), there are few studies on mentoring from the perspective of knowledge sharing, particularly in the context of China. In this study, we have defined mentoring as the relationship that exists between an experienced and skilled employee (mentor) and an inexperienced but promising employee (intern), thus supporting the development of the intern. Mentoring is regarded as an effective tool for training new staff to speed up the process of socialization, and is becoming increasingly popular in organizations around the world (Thomas & Lankau, 2009). Mentoring promotes the occupational success of protégés and increases occupational satisfaction (Byrne, Dik, & Chiaburu, 2008) through the transformation from tacit knowledge to explicit knowledge, and the socialization of knowledge (Nonaka, 1994). Previous researchers have indicated that tacit knowledge is more widely shared than explicit knowledge is (Oliveira, Curado, Maçada, & Nodari, 2015).

The knowledge-sharing behavior of providers is influenced by the ability, attitude, and learning willingness of receivers (Allen et al., 2004). In prior studies on knowledge sharing, the main focus has been on the learning willingness of receivers and organizational incentives, which are regarded as important factors in intrinsic and extrinsic motivation that influence the knowledge-sharing behavior of mentors (Chen & Wen, 2011). Previous discussion has mainly been focused on organizational factors, such as structure, salary, strategy, and leader behavior. The tendency is for knowledge-sharing behavior to be promoted by cooperation, trust, innovation, and support among internal organizational members (DeLong, Gabarro, & Lees, 2008). Opinions on the effect of organizational incentives on knowledge sharing differ (Lin, 2007). In this study, we considered the effect of the interaction of learning willingness of interns, organizational incentives, and mentor personality on the knowledge-sharing behavior of mentors. We expected that the results would further understanding of the association between these factors and would enrich the theoretical study of factors that influence the knowledge-sharing behavior of mentors.

The primary focus in previous studies has been on the direct impact of mentoring on the performance (Pan, Sun, & Chow, 2011) or career success (Kwan, Liu, & Yim, 2011) of the protégé. Because of the significant effect of mentoring on these outcomes and the lack of research on the knowledge-sharing behavior of mentors, in this study we focused on this aspect of mentoring. We investigated how this behavior was influenced by extrinsic motivation and intrinsic motivation, which, for example, Guo, Liao, Liao, and Zhang (2014) showed was positively related to job performance. To our knowledge, we are the first to discuss the effect of the learning willingness of interns on the knowledgesharing behavior of mentors, and to examine the effects of mentor personality and organizational incentives as moderators in this relationship. The research framework is shown in Figure 1.

Literature Review and Development of Hypotheses

Learning Willingness of Interns and Knowledge-Sharing Behavior of Mentors

Although mentors guide and share knowledge with protégés, mentoring can also reflect the relationship between colleagues or partners (Eby, 1997). …

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