Academic journal article Innovation: Organization & Management

Knowledge Sharing in Knowledge Workers: The Roles of Social Exchange Theory and the Theory of Planned Behavior

Academic journal article Innovation: Organization & Management

Knowledge Sharing in Knowledge Workers: The Roles of Social Exchange Theory and the Theory of Planned Behavior

Article excerpt

Introduction

Knowledge has become the most critical strategic asset, especially among organizations with high knowledge intensity (Grant, 1996; Spender, 1996; Teece, 2000). Knowledge imbeds in individuals (Nonaka & Konno, 1998), therefore more specific knowledge is sourced from knowledge workers who can innovate, understand, absorb, and utilize specific knowledge at work. Knowledge workers are defined as those who efficiently generate new ideas and create new products, and consequently instill up-to-date knowledge and enhance competitiveness (Drucker, 1998). Therefore, organizations must encourage knowledge workers to share knowledge, experience, and information routinely with others for successfully circulating knowledge in organizations and creating core values. Therefore, encouraging knowledge workers to share tacit and explicit knowledge and hence to create knowledge-sharing behavior has become the most critical management problem (Foss, 2007).

Previous research has attempted to identify significant explanatory variables influencing individual intention to share knowledge. For example, studies have identified the effect of organizational commitment (Kalman, 1999), including the influence of expected organizational rewards and reciprocal benefits (Lin, 2007), and the effect of autonomous motivation, beliefs, and attitudes (Gagne & Deci, 2005; Kolekofski & Heminger, 2003), as well as the impact of knowledge self-efficacy and enjoyment gained from helping others (Hsu, Ju, Yen, & Chang, 2007; Lin, 2007). The influences of interpersonal relationships and trust have been claimed as primary factors in facilitating knowledge sharing (Cabrera & Cabrera, 2005; McAllister, 1995). Research on knowledge sharing initially focused on clarifying the relationship from a social exchange perspective (Tsai & Cheng, 2012). For example, intrinsic rewards (Blau, 1964) were adopted as a crucial conceptual paradigm for understanding workplace behaviors, and trust was determined to be a valuable means for enhancing knowledge sharing and an essential element in the emergence and maintenance of social exchange relationships (Liao, 2008; Tsai & Cheng, 2012).

Bock, Zmud, Kim, and Lee (2005) proposed that knowledge sharing entailed encouraging and facilitating a power rather than a force. Social exchange deals with intangible social costs and benefits; a social exchange does not guarantee a reciprocal outcome, and there are no rules or agreements on which to conduct an interaction (Gefen & Ridings, 2002). However, the literature shows contrasting views regarding how specific organizational interventions may enable organizations to encourage knowledge-sharing behavior among their employees (Gibbert & Krause, 2002). We specifically developed the argument that, although trust creates opportunities to engage in knowledge sharing with colleagues, the employee requires adequate norms to fully exploit this opportunity. Norms is defined as perceived social pressure to perform organizational goals (Ajzen, 1991). Ajzen (1985, 1991) asserts that norms are direct determinants of behavior intention, which in turn affect behavior. We argue that norms for knowledge sharing moderate the link between trust and knowledge-sharing intention. Norms are the organizational demands that employees must conform to and the organizational rules that enable them to trust each other (Sarker, Valacich, & Sarker, 2003). Norms represent a person's personal expectations or those they have of others. Hence, norms are not merely a driving force but also a constraint. To address this critical problem, this study draws on the rich body of research on the theory of planned behavior (TPB). Ajzen (1988, 1991)defined TPB as attitudinal, normative, and behavioral control components that contribute to intentions and behaviors. Intention referred to how willing people were to try and how much effort they were willing to expend in performing the behaviors. …

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