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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : International Journal of Information Management, Volume 30, Issue 3, June 2010, Pages 220–230
This paper explores individual cognitive mechanisms of knowledge-sharing (KS) motivation and intends to provide more effective measures to judge and influence individual inclinations toward KS in a cross-cultural context. First, it investigates four cognitive processes based on an individual's commitment toward KS, and studies through these processes how an individual's intrinsic motivation derived from social norms and personal norms, and extrinsic motivation derived from reward and punishment make concerted efforts to shape the ultimate intention to KS. Then, Hofstede's cultural framework is integrated to theorize cross-cultural differences in these processes. Finally, through a survey conducted in China and the US, the aforementioned theoretical analysis is confirmed. The results indicate that intrinsic motivation operates through affective commitment: internalization, identification and conformity; rewards have little direct effects on final intentions but they will influence attitude indirectly via identification; punishment for not sharing splits on cultural lines: Chinese tend to comply to avoid opposing their group and Americans tend to follow a more individualistic path; Chinese have more tendencies to conform to teams’ opinions and tend to favor KS as a means of achieving harmonious relationships, while Americans engage in KS because self-worth is viewed as the manifestation of their individual determinations
Cooperation or collaboration is surely known as a central and effective working means to achieve desired outcomes for an organization (Siemsen, Balasubramanian, & Roth, 2007). Today's knowledge-based economy knowledge, especially that possessed by individuals, plays a critical role in driving the organization value (Jasimuddin, 2007 and Nonaka and Konno, 1998). Consequentially knowledge-sharing (KS) behavior among employees, which enables the element of cooperation, can be of paramount importance in shaping the organization's fortunes (Wang, 2004 and Woods, 2001). By virtue of KS behavior, the most valuable personal knowledge can be transferred to multiple individuals, expanded throughout an organization, and finally help the organization to achieve success (Lin, 2008, Osterloh and Frey, 2000 and Wang, 2004). The significance of KS is well-recognized but there is a relative lack of significant KS within real-life firms. Many efforts have been made to find approaches and mechanisms to enhance KS (Bock et al., 2005, Chow et al., 2000 and Willem and Buelens, 2009). Some efforts attempted use of technological methods (Alavi and Leidner, 2001 and Sher and Lee, 2004); others have sought to stimulate individual KS intentions and responses to incentive systems (Bock et al., 2005, Hsu, 2006 and Hwang and Kim, 2007). Despite the development of information technology applications which have facilitated knowledge sharing to a great extent, people's behavioral inclinations for hiding knowledge and not responding to incentive systems further come to the surface and become the central and essential impediment to an acceptable level of KS (Chow et al., 2000, Grover and Davenport, 2001 and Hsu, 2006). Generally speaking, all external influences tend to operate through an individual's internal cognition (Malhotra & Galletta, 2005). Specifically, external influences are first projected to one's interior interface (such as social norms) and in turn undergo the influence of internal cognitive mechanisms before being displayed as external behavior. Thus the insights into an individual's cognitive mechanism toward KS motivation can reveal the principle of individual perceptions toward KS activities and subsequently provide more effective measures to judge individual inclinations toward KS. This paper proposed such an individual cognitive model. The model depicts individual motivation acting upon differential cognitive processes based on an individual's commitment toward sharing knowledge. These processes seek to project how an individual's intrinsic motivation derived from social norms and personal norms, and extrinsic motivation derived from reward and punishment make concerted efforts to shape the ultimate intention to share knowledge. As revealed by many previous studies, individuals from various nations usually hold diverse cognitive mechanisms influenced by national cultural norms, which as the antecedent of individual beliefs and values predispose employees to certain behavioral attitudes and intentions (Ford et al., 2003, Hofstede, 1980 and Srite and Karahanna, 2006). Though employee motivation toward KS has been the subject of much academic research, this sort of research has mainly consisted of single-country studies (Bock et al., 2005, Hsu, 2006, Taylor, 2006 and Willem and Buelens, 2009). The economic globalization trend urges continual interaction among different nations, which in turn intensifies the multicultural conflicts in knowledge sharing and management (Hofstede and Bond, 1988 and Zakaria et al., 2004). Hofstede (1994) postulated that cultural values shape theories and practices of organizational management. Furthermore, Hofstede (1993) pointed out that the present view of management was established in the western-oriented frame of reference, especially the Anglo-American/North American orientation. Although that view generally continues to prevail today, those concepts of management are no longer viewed as universally applicable. Under this perspective the “best” western-style knowledge-sharing practices and management control tools can be ineffective or even dysfunctional in non-western environments (Chow, Kato, & Merchant, 1996). Consequently, organizational practices to enhance employees’ knowledge sharing under non-western cultural contexts should be explored. This study seeks to transcend single-culture KS motivation research and take the influence of cross-cultural background into account. It specifically contributes to the following two aspects: (1) It offers a cognitive model to present how individual motivation operates through differential cognitive processes to output the final intention to KS. The model can integrate the functional mechanisms of both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation “through the eyes of action subjects”. Thus it can deepen our understanding of KS motivation mechanisms and intention formation. (2) It integrated Hofstede's (2001) multidimensional national cultural framework to theorize cross-cultural differences in the KS cognitive mechanisms and shed light on the direct and moderating effects of national culture. Consequentially, it can provide researchers and practitioners with the in-depth understanding of how people from different national cultures perceive KS motivation and shape their final attitudes and intentions to KS in different ways. Given the salient gap between Anglo-American and Chinese-based cultures and the influence of their intercultural and intra-cultural economies in the global environment (Chow et al., 2000, Hofstede and Bond, 1988 and Huang et al., 2008), our study conducted an empirical investigation on equivalent sample populations from both the USA and China, which were respectively projected as cross-sections of Anglo-American and Chinese-based cultures. The survey found strong support for both the cognitive model and the proposed hypotheses associated with cross-cultural differences on this model. The findings from this study should have far reaching theoretical and pragmatic implications for global perspectives. Especially we expect that they will be of particular value for the design and implementation of subtle management systems to boost KS in consonance with diverse cultural backgrounds (Tsui, 2001). The remainder of this paper is organized as follows. In the next section, the theoretical bases of the study are described, correspondingly the research model and the research hypotheses are proposed. The third section describes our research methods. The fourth section discusses our research findings, and their implications for research and practice. The last section concludes with the study's limitations and proposes the future research possibilities.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
4.1. Discussion of findings This study mainly focused on two aspects: (1) the inherent cognitive mechanism concerning KS motivation; (2) the influence of national cultural values on this cognitive mechanism. 12 hypotheses respectively associated with the two aspects were proposed, and a survey was conducted in both China and the US to validate them. Accordingly some very interesting findings were yielded. Specifically, because KS is primarily a self-determined activity per se and it cannot be explicitly or directly rewarded (Lin, 2007), an individual's attitude toward KS is a primary determinant that influences the ultimate intention to KS. The attitude is driven by the effects of personal and social norms. Personal norms present intrinsic motivation and their effect is manifest via psychological pathways of internalization and identification. Social norms act as one's interior interface reflecting external influences and their effect is manifest via the pathways of internalization, identification and conformity. Especially emphasized, it deviates from the conventional understanding that rewards do not directly stimulate the intention to KS by themselves, but they will impact the attitude toward KS through buildups of identification. The effect of the latent punishment is context sensitive: in Chinese-based cultural background, people support acquiescence to KS to avoid punishment; however, in American-based cultural background, people are inclined to disregard fear of punishment. Further, Chinese appear to have more tendencies to conform to groups’ opinions and tend to favor KS as a means of achieving harmonious relationships within the group; while Americans appear to engage in KS because self-worth is viewed as the manifestation of their individual determinations. 4.2. Implications for theory and practice Given the trends for extended global cooperation, the question on how to effectively motivate KS especially under the context of cross-nations is becoming more and more important. This study proposed a cognitive model of KS motivation in the view of a cross-culture environment to contribute greater insights to this question. In theory, we integrated the cognitive perspective of knowledge sharing from a cross-cultural context and revealed the cognitive mechanism of KS motivation. We employed as our theoretical framework the social influence theory and augmented it with new commitment “conformity”. Based on it, the functional mechanisms of both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation can be integrated into four underlying psychological processes “through the eyes of action subjects”. These underlying processes embrace both the predisposed personal belief in KS and the cognitive conversion induced by exterior impacts. Thus it deepens our understanding of KS motivation mechanisms from individual cognitive perspective and helps to provide more effective measures to judge individual inclinations toward KS. Especially, our findings reconcile the inconsistency in the existing research on the effect of extrinsic rewards and recruits the extant motivation theories, namely people generally were in agreement on not sharing their knowledge simply to receive a reward; however, if the rewards led to a higher identification profile for KS it augmented a positive attitude toward KS. Furthermore, our study was based in a cross-cultural context (Chinese and American). As such it extended the research explorations beyond the large body of knowledge that exists on single-culture research findings. Thus our research leaded to discernible comparisons between cultures and provided the important and essential insights to reinforce the prior literature. For example: in a Chinese-based context, social norms impact an individual's attitude toward knowledge sharing not only through internalization and identification (as proved by Western theories) but also through a volitional commitment of conformity. Another example, individuals in an Anglo-American context seldom comply with the threat of latent punishment to share knowledge, it is a contrast to a Chinese-based cultural context. Chinese and Americans respectively have different sensitivities to the affective commitment. Chinese inclinations toward KS are more likely encouraged by others’ appreciation, while Americans tend to accept KS as the realization of self-worth and the manifestation of their individual determinations. We hope this study will provide a general framework and methodology that other behavior incentive studies can utilize. Furthermore, we would encourage future researchers to place more emphasis on cross-cultural studies on behavioral motivation throughout the discipline of information management. In practice, we believe this study provides some “golden nugget” useful insights for cooperation management and human resource management in multinational corporations and multinational teams. Especially since individuals from diverse nations have different sensitivities to each sort of KS motivation. The managers should place emphasis on different incentive measures according to the embedded national culture. This study provides an example for subsidiaries and teams respectively set in China and the US. The results can be extended to the entire Anglo-American and Chinese-based cultural contexts, and also can be a reference to the related issues in other cultural contexts. First, the extensive communication and dissemination of KS benefits and values would provide an effective mechanism to encourage KS. More specifically, since American employees seemed to favor visibility into their personal abilities and commitment to KS, a system that can bring their KS contributions into view should be a more effective mechanism to spread KS for that organization. Second, on an organizational level it would be wise in this situation to make such recognition well known. Since Chinese are more sensitive to others’ appreciation when seen as good contributors, the appropriate compliments to the Chinese employees who actively engage in KS would reinforce their favorable attitudes toward KS. Third, the social influence across the organization would act as an effective means of inspiring all employees to KS. The relative measures may include: facilitating the formation of active referent communities within organizations, and highlighting some examples who take active part in KS. These measures may be more effective within Chinese subsidiaries or teams since Chinese appear to have more tendencies to follow each other. Especially, considering Chinese culture of large-power distance, the good examples of the leaders’ KS behaviors may effectively motivate employees to follow (Huang et al., 2008). Notably, extrinsic rewards need to be used with caution in practice. The appropriate rewards may be comprehended to be a kind of approval and inspiration, nevertheless never go beyond surplus. Furthermore, since the punishment might hinder the development of positive intentions to share knowledge for Americans, in American-based setting top management should cautiously push too much pressure on employees’ KS with their power and prestige.