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|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||تعداد صفحات مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی|
|4870||2008||11 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : International Business Review, Volume 17, Issue 6, December 2008, Pages 703–713
This paper explores why and how human resource management (HRM) matters for knowledge transfer within multinational corporations. It is built on the premise that there are certain HRM practices influencing extrinsic and intrinsic motivation of knowledge receivers. It is found that complementarity among HRM practices exists but does not always have a positive effect on knowledge transfer. Three hypotheses derived from these arguments are tested on data from 92 subsidiaries of Danish multinational corporations located in 11 countries.
Previous research has found that multinational corporations (MNCs) can institute various organizational policies and practices to overcome barriers associated with knowledge transfer determinants, thereby facilitating internal knowledge transfer (e.g. Persson, 2006). In particular, it has been suggested that human resource management (HRM) practices could influence the degree of intra-MNC knowledge transfer if the HRM practices employed are aimed at enhancing the capacity of organizational members to contribute to knowledge-related organizational goals (Minbaeva, Pedersen, Bjorkman, Fey, & Park, 2003; Pucik, 1988; Tsang, 1999). Overall, there is a shared assumption that a non-negligible part of the observed variation in the degree of knowledge transfer can be ascribed to variation in the employment of HRM practices. However, more work needs to be done to explain theoretically why and how HRM and knowledge transfer are linked. While there have been extensive discussions concerning the implications of management and governance of knowledge for theory building in other fields of management research (e.g. Grandori & Kogut, 2002; Osterloh & Frey, 2000), this has not been the case in the HRM field. HRM scholars themselves have acknowledged the fact that the field of HRM lacks the view of knowledge as an organizationally shared, accessible, and transferable resource that needs to be managed (Wright, Dunford, & Snell, 2001, p. 714). Nonetheless, given its concern with the identification, development, deployment, and rewarding of human capital (knowledge embodied in humans) and its services, the HRM field seems to address directly the issues of governance and knowledge management (Foss, 2007). Despite an increasing interest in the subject, it is surprising how little empirical research has actually been conducted on the topic (Foss & Pedersen, 2002). The existing empirical work has been criticized for focusing exclusively on the individual HRM practices and their isolated effect (Laursen & Foss, 2003). That could be a serious limitation since HRM is defined as “a set of distinct but interrelated activities, functions, and processes that are directed at attracting, developing and maintaining (or disposing of) a firm's human resources” (Lado & Wilson, 1994, p. 701; emphasis added). Therefore, it has been suggested that future research should consider the complementary effect of HRM practices on the degree of knowledge transfer. To advance the field, it was recommended that the groups of HRM practices should be identified theoretically, rather than by relying on statistical techniques such as factor and cluster analysis (Guest, 1997). In this regard, literature points to the possibility of expanding the framework linking HRM practices and knowledge transfer by introducing individual-level mediating variables. Those variables are “the very outcomes that seem to have originally guided the construction of HR practice items” (Gerhart, 2005, p. 183) and individual-level variables explaining organizational-level knowledge processes (Argote, McEvily, & Reagans, 2003). This paper considers the motivation of knowledge receivers (a subsidiary's employees) as a mediating variable that helps explain why and how HRM practices affect intra-MNC knowledge transfer. I have chosen to focus on motivation because despite a general consensus among theoretical and conceptual researchers that a strong willingness on behalf of knowledge receivers to absorb new knowledge increases the likelihood of successful knowledge transfer (e.g. Argote et al., 2003), empirical studies on the role of employees’ motivation in knowledge transfer have reported mixed results. It is suggested that using a more nuanced measure of motivation would enable researchers to develop unique insights into how HRM practices affect motivation of knowledge receivers and ultimately knowledge transfer. Towards this goal, the existing literature on motivation of knowledge receivers and knowledge transfer is reviewed and the differences between extrinsic and intrinsic motivation are introduced. Then it is argued that there are certain HRM practices that influence the extrinsic and intrinsic motivation of knowledge receivers. The degree of knowledge transfer to the subsidiary could be managed (or governed, see Foss, 2007) via the application of those HRM practices. Three hypotheses considering the individual and system effects of HRM practices are put forward and tested on the dataset of 92 subsidiaries of Danish-based MNCs located in 11 countries. At the end of the paper, the results are discussed and future research perspectives are presented.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
Previous research emphasizes that the ability to create and transfer knowledge internally is one of the main competitive advantages of multinational firms compared to their domestic counterparts (Kogut & Zander, 1993). Yet, to realize the competitive potential of knowledge as a strategic resource, the internal knowledge transfer should be governed, i.e. influenced and directed through the deployment of governance mechanisms, in particular the formal aspects of the organization that can be manipulated by management, such as organization structure, information systems, standard operating procedures, accounting systems, and other coordination mechanisms (cf. the KGA, as advocated by Foss, 2007; Grandori, 2001). Proponents of the KGA assert that HRM practices are critical antecedents of knowledge processes (Foss, 2007; Grandori, 2001). On the other hand, researchers working in the field of HRM called for the transformation of the HRM system more than a decade ago, at which time they identified support to the process of organizational learning as the key strategic task facing the HRM function in many MNCs today (Pucik, 1988). Lado and Wilson (1994) suggested that HRM practices “can contribute to sustained competitive advantage through facilitating the development of competencies that are firm specific, produce complex social relationships, … and generate organizational knowledge” (Lado & Wilson, 1994, p. 699). Clearly, HRM practices and knowledge transfer are associated, but some important aspects of this interpretation and empirical support for the link are missing. From theoretical, empirical, and managerial perspectives, the key issue is to understand why and how the deployment of specific HRM practices may best facilitate knowledge transfer within MNCs. Towards this goal, this paper considered two groups of HRM practices whose employment facilitates knowledge transfer to the subsidiary. HRM practices were first identified conceptually (as recommended by MacDuffie, 1995; Youndt, Snell, Dean, & Lepak, 1996) and then factor analyzed to uncover the underlying factor structure associated with these practices (following Huselid, 1995). Two groups were identified—HRM practices influencing extrinsic motivation (performance-based rewards and recognition, financial support of degree-earning programs, performance management) and HRM practices influencing intrinsic motivation (job design, flexible working arrangements, transfers, and career development). We observed an individual positive and significant effect of HRM EXTR on knowledge transfer. This is in line with the general argument that extrinsic rewards encourage knowledge sharing. Our data did not provide any evidence for the individual effect of HRM INTR on knowledge transfer. We must be cautious in our interpretation of this result, since it may very well be due to the deficiencies in our measurement (in particular, HRM practices, low Cronbach Alpha) or data limitations (number of observations, single respondent per unit). On the other hand, intrinsically motivated employees may engage in activities to feel self-competent and self-determining. From an organizational viewpoint, intrinsically motivated people may present a risk by being more inclined to follow their own goals instead of the organizational goals. Further, it may be difficult for others to co-operate with highly intrinsically motivated employees, who may have a need to dominate, uncontrolled passion, and a fanatic belief in their own ideas. So the use of intrinsic motivators alone may not explain much variance in achieving the organizational goal of transferring a higher degree of knowledge to the subsidiary. As Osterloh and Frey (2000) point out, organizations, with a few exceptions, may not be interested in employees working in a highly motivated manner to achieve their own goals without considering the organizational goals. Instead, a preferred option would be that organizational members are motivated to contribute in a coordinated and organizational goal-seeking manner. Preconditions for intrinsic motivation are autonomy, a sense of competence, and social relatedness. Thus, future research should also include organizational culture as a determinant when analyzing motivators for knowledge sharing. Further, one needs to keep in mind that “a factor may motivate performance in one (cultural) context and yet have no effect (or even a negative effect) in some other contexts” (Mead, 1998, p. 193). Some of the HRM practices I used to measure HRM INTR—flexible working arrangements, job enlargement, team-based job design—do not “travel” easily. For example, Brewster and Tregaskis (2003) show that the country of operation has the largest effect on the level of uptake of flexible practices. Additional analysis performed using these data showed no significant changes in either the direction of the relationships or the coefficients of the independent variables when a country dummy variable was introduced. The limited number of observations per country did not allow testing of the hypothesis separately for each country. Clearly, a similar study in which much larger countries are represented needs to be made in order to take some of the overlooked issues into account. Few studies on HRM and knowledge transfer have considered the impact of complementarity among HRM practices on knowledge transfer, and those that have taken this factor into account have assumed that complementarity has a positive impact on all forms of knowledge-related performance. This paper challenges the view that complementarity among HRM practices is always positive for knowledge transfer. On the contrary, as was hypothesized and confirmed, when applied simultaneously, some HRM practices affect knowledge transfer process negatively. Such findings are in line with the arguments of Motivation Crowding Theory (Frey & Jegen, 2001), but do not make much sense for HR practitioners. Does this mean that extrinsic and intrinsic motivators should not be applied simultaneously to avoid crowding out effects? What can companies do to avoid negative complementarity? Should they choose between extrinsic and intrinsic motivators, and never apply them together? Not necessarily. Deci (1975, p. 271) argues that extrinsic motivators always come first: “the simplest reason why people look first to external causes is that external forces are readily observable and therefore more reliable.” However, Vroom (1964) warn us: the relationship between extrinsic motivators and human performance of any kind might take the form of an inverted U function. That is, performance is low when rewards are low, it reaches its maximum point under a moderate level of rewards and then drops off again even though the rewards are high. Perhaps at the last stage intrinsic rewards could be introduced to keep performance high. Such an approach echoes the idea of the Motivation–Work Cycle Match presented by Amabile (1993): the use of motivators should match the individual's basic motivational orientation towards work as well as job characteristics. Intrinsic motivators might be appropriate for certain stages of work when novelty and creativity are required, while extrinsic motivators can help “to ensure that the output will be timely, complete and useful” (Amabile, 1993, p. 196). From a practitioner's point of view, this would imply the need to examine different kinds of tasks and processes with the purpose of identifying the types of motivation needed—extrinsic or intrinsic. Additionally, the two fundamental types of motivation do not seem to have a supplementary relation and therefore, deliberate motivation management is very important (Osterloh & Frey, 2000). The main limitation of the data is the use of a single respondent per unit. Consequently, I was able to capture only the intended HRM practices—those that are designed at the organizational level and “tied directly to the business strategy” (Wright & Nishii, 2006, p. 11). Although intended practices have been the focus of most HRM research, I subscribe to the recent call of Becker and Huselid (2006, p. 900), who argue that to advance, we need to push HRM scholars out of their “natural comfort zone,” which assumes the aggregation of individuals, the existence of an “average individual,” no differences in individual perception of external stimuli (intended HRM practices), and no differences in the reaction to those stimuli. Hence, future studies should aim at collecting individual-level data to capture the variations in individuals’ reaction to the implemented HRM practices (how HRM practices are “perceived and interpreted subjectively by each employee”; Wright & Nishii, 2006, p. 11). This would be most appropriate when discussing the individual responses to motivators. As Felin and Hesterly (2007) argue, individual-level differences are likely to moderate, potentially strongly, the relation between HRM and knowledge transfer. Data limitations aside, the analysis suggests that the axiom widely accepted in the HRM performance literature stating that “the more HRM practices a firm employs, the better it performs” may not apply to the HRM knowledge link. HRM practices should be designed to lead to certain outcomes. When outcomes change, the chosen HRM practices should be re-examined. Hence, one should not simply accept findings from previous literature on HRM and (business) performance and substitute the performance variable with something “knowledge related.” Similarly, complementarity among HRM practices is not always positive; hence the reasons for potential complementarity should be examined carefully. To advance the field, it is recommended that groups of HRM practices be identified theoretically. In this regard, the literature points to the possibility of expanding the framework linking HRM practices and knowledge transfer by introducing other individual-level mediating variables, such as individual ability and (the use of) opportunities provided by the organization (Argote et al., 2003; Gerhart, 2005). This approach is also advocated in the emerging KGA approach (Foss, 2007; Grandori, 2001; Nickerson & Zenger, 2004; Osterloh & Frey, 2000), which was used to frame the theoretical argumentation of this paper. Finally, introducing individual-level mediating variables is a response to recent calls to focus on the role that individuals play in leveraging knowledge and improving our understanding of the micro-foundations needed to explain the emergence, existence, persistence, and change of organizational-level variables (Felin & Foss, 2005; Felin & Hesterly, 2007) such as knowledge transfer. To conclude, re-phrasing Guest (1997, p. 274) we can now say with increasing confidence that HRM and knowledge transfer are linked, but “this is a skeletal finding and we need to put a lot of flesh on the bones.”