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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Knowledge Sharing Networks and Employee Motivation as Precursors to Organizational Innovation


We are in the massive explosive age of knowledge sharing and virtual information transference. Organizations are scrambling to find ways of capitalizing on the large movement of information in order to create more efficient and innovative firms. Research helps to support the concepts that effective knowledge sharing is part communication technology and part human motivation. 

Knowledge sharing creates opportunities for organizations to meet the needs of customers, generate solutions and create efficiencies that provide opportunity for organizations to more effectively compete on the open market (Reid, 2003). Through this sharing of knowledge workers can better enhance both their personal efforts as well as the resources of the organization. 

Organization innovation often rests on the ability to make meaning of important information and then applying it to solve important problems. According to Scarbrough (2003) knowledge sharing is essential to the development of higher levels of innovative output. Problem solving requires the collaboration of skills and information in order to effectively complete and this is where knowledge sharing has its value.

Simply because an organization has developed knowledge sharing networks does not necessarily mean that they will be utilized effectively. There are individual, organizational, and technology related factors to the success of such networks (Taylor and Write, 2004). Each of these factors can influence the viability and practical utility of such systems making them either profitable or sunk costs with no opportunity for recovery. 

Employees must also willingly engage in such knowledge sharing projects. Without employee participation and belief that the networks are important to them they won’t be utilized to their fullest extent. Thus such networks need to have value for the members and contribute to their personal goals. 

Research conducted by Hsiu-Fen from the National Taiwan Ocean University in 2007 helps to determine the individual, organizational, and technology related factors in the on knowledge sharing and where or not such factors influence organizational innovation.  After initial pilot testing the study included 172 participants from 50 organizations and analyzed results using the structural equation modeling (SEM). 

Results:

-Enjoyment of helping others and knowledge self-efficiency were strongly associated with employee willingness to share knowledge.

-Top management support was effective for employee willingness to share and collect knowledge on such networks. 

-Positive relationship of information networking and knowledge collecting but not necessarily with the desire to share knowledge. 

-The willingness of employees to both donate and share knowledge has a marked impact on a firm’s innovation capacity. 

Analysis:

Through the study it is possible to see that knowledge sharing networks have an impact on organizational innovative capacities. However, employees must find a beneficial use in the information they are finding as well as a willingness to donate their energy to sharing knowledge. This sharing motivation is rooted in the desire to help others but also is enhanced through the rewards of performance. Organizations that implement such knowledge sharing networks should also consider the human elements of motivation and ease of usage. 

Hsiu-Fen, L. (2007). Knowledge sharing and firm innovation capability: an empirical study. International Journal of Manpower, 28 (3/4). 

Reid, F. (2003). Creating a knowledge sharing culture among diverse business units. Employment Relations Today, 30 (3). 

Scarbrough, H. (2003). Knowledge management, HRM and innovation process. International journal of Manpower, 24 (5). 

Taylor, W. & Wright, G. (2004). Organizational readiness for successful knowledge sharing: challenges for public sector managers. Information Resource management Journal, 17 (2).

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