Academic journal article E - Journal of Social & Behavioural Research in Business

Knowledge Sharing Traits and Competitive Advantage: A Qualitative Inquiry

Academic journal article E - Journal of Social & Behavioural Research in Business

Knowledge Sharing Traits and Competitive Advantage: A Qualitative Inquiry

Article excerpt


Knowledge sharing is vital across industries as it is believed to improve organizational strategic outcome (Lin, 2007c; Matzler & Mueller, 2011; Ritala, Olander, Michailova & Husted, 2015). Most organizations use knowledge sharing as a platform to achieve competitive advantage (Hinds, Patterson & Pfeffer, 2001).

A person who shares knowledge or a sharer is a typical individual with detailed information in his or her area of expertise who has relevant awareness, motivation, personality and skills in their decision to share (Lin, 2007b; Lichtenstein & Hunter, 2008). There exists various perspectives related to human personality among them psychoanalytic, neo-analytic/ego, biological, behaviourist, cognitive, trait, humanistic and interactionist. Among all these, the trait perspective based on the Five-Factor Model of Personality (FFM) is the most influential across different fields (Goldberg, 1981; Conley, 1985; McCrae & Costa, 1987; Digman, 1990; Friedman & Schustack, 2012; Burger, 2015).

Although individual personal characteristics play an important role in work attitudes (Judge & Bono, 2001), the role of personality traits in knowledge sharing literature remains scarce (Memon, Nor & Salleh, 2016). Most studies are fixated on the motivational aspects of knowledge sharing (Newbert, 2007; Wang & Noe, 2010). Furthermore, studies utilizing quantitative approach in assessing the organizational strategic outcome tend to be overgeneralized as the specific elements of competitive advantage are not fully established (Priem & Butler, 2001; Andersen, 2011) in view of the complex subjective human interactions (Argote & Ingram, 2000; Foss & Pedersen,2002, Memon, Nor & Salleh, 2016).

The Resource-Based View (RBV) theory suggests that the key to competitive advantage is through exploiting differences and the uniqueness of an organization's resources (Fahy, 2001; Barney 1997). In strategy literature, an organization which is in position to exploit specific resources is likely to achieve sustainable competitive advantage through VRIO framework assessment: Valuable, Rare, Inimitable and Organized (Spanos & Liouskas, 2001; Barney & Hesterly, 2008). Among the array of organizational resources, knowledge has been recognised as a critical source of competitive advantage as evident in empirical studies based on VRIO framework across broad industry context (Berman, Down & Hill, 2002; McEvily & Chakravarthy, 2002; Kearns & Lederer, 2003; Sandhawalia & Dalcher, 2011).

This paper aims to explore the most dominant personality trait of a sharer through the perspective of FFM. This is followed by the extent to which knowledge sharing influences the competitive advantage outcome in the context of VRIO framework. To achieve this, semistructured interviews were conducted in nine Malaysian listed organizations where knowledge was shared on closed-network basis.

By gaining a better insight on sharer's knowledge sharing personality traits, decisionmaking and problem-solving can be enhanced in many organizations (Yang, 2007). Moreover, awareness on the current competitive advantage position could assist top management in charting their intended strategic path.

Literature Review

Knowledge Sharing

Knowledge sharing relates to communicating available knowledge within individuals or groups for performance enhancement (Alavi & Liedner, 1999; Salisbury, 2003). The sharing process starts from collection, organisation and dissemination from one to another (Van den Hooff & De Ridder, 2004), thereby contributing to value expansion when it is shared. Knowledge sharing can be divided into two types: closed-network sharing and open-network sharing. The former is also known as person-to-person sharing where knowledge sharers have the freedom to make decision on the mode and person to share knowledge with. This type of interaction enables greater personal touch and enhanced trust. …

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