Impacts mechanism of knowledge sharing rewards based on the interactive process
Gao Zhonghua1, Zhao Chen2, Wu Chunbo3
1. College of Business Administration, Capital University of Economics and Business, Beijing 100070, China;
2. School of Economics and Management, Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications, Beijing 100876, China;
3. School of Public Administration and Policy, Renmin University of China, Beijing 100872, China
Knowledge team, a group design pattern in which the potential of knowledge workers can be reached to the fullest, has become a major force to conduct innovative activities and promote the incubation of technological outcomes. In knowledge teams, members are usually playing two important roles in knowledge sharing process - knowledge demander and knowledge possessor - under the interactive process perspective. It has been indicated that team members often face a dilemma when they make knowledge sharing decisions. On the one hand, they hope to meet shared expectations and be regarded as having team spirits. On the other hand, they are afraid of the potential risks brought by sharing knowledge with others. For instance, they may feel that seeking knowledge from others threatens their authority and providing knowledge to others weakens their competitiveness. The reduction of knowledge sharing behaviors may cause great detriments not only to the creativity of team members but also to the overall innovation of teams. Based on the interactive process perspective, we proposed that when team members play as knowledge demanders, their concerns about seeking knowledge might hamper their knowledge seeking behaviors but facilitate knowledge creating behaviors. We then proposed that when they play as knowledge possessors, their concerns about giving knowledge might hamper both their knowledge giving and creating behaviors.
With respect to the role of rewards in eliciting knowledge sharing behaviors, it has been suggested that various types of rewards that were provided to team members can help to release theirsubjective concerns about knowledge sharing to some extent. A consensus has been reached that intrinsic rewards can enhance knowledge sharing behaviors. There is a debate, however, as to whether extrinsic rewards can enhance knowledge sharing behavior or not. Some scholars deem that extrinsic rewards may play as a signal of value and guide team members to make effort to participate into knowledge sharing activities. However, other researchers hold an opposite view that people’s intrinsic motivation to display knowledge sharing behaviors may be damaged by extrinsic rewards. In this study, we not only examined the main effects of intrinsic and extrinsic rewards, but also consider them as boundary conditions on the formation of knowledge sharing behaviors and examine their moderating roles on the relationships between knowledge sharing concerns and behaviors. We proposed that intrinsic and extrinsic rewards that team members have obtained from knowledge sharing activities cannot only facilitate them to engage in knowledge seeking, giving and creating behaviors, but also weaken the impacts of their knowledge seeking concerns on knowledge seeking and creating behaviors and the impacts of their knowledge giving concerns on knowledge giving and creating behaviors.
To test our hypotheses, we conducted a survey in five enterprises that adopt a design of knowledge team as their basic organizational forms. In total, 500 questionnaires were administrated to team members and leaders respectively. Team members were asked to rate both the intrinsic and extrinsic rewards obtained from sharing knowledge with their peers, and to indicate their concerns about knowledge sharing when they played as either knowledge demander and knowledge provider. Team leaders were asked to evaluate knowledge acquiring, knowledge giving and knowledge developing behaviors of their subordinates. Finally, 440 paired effective data were collected at last. STATA 15.0 was employed to analyze the data and provide empirical support to our hypotheses.
Our results demonstrate that team members’ concern for seeking knowledge hinders their knowledge seeking but promotes the knowledge creating when they play as knowledge demanders, and their concern for giving knowledge hinders both knowledge giving and creating when they play the role of knowledge possessor. This finding fully supports our first and second hypotheses and is also consistent with assertation of Husted and Michailova (2002) to some extent. Moreover, this finding has some practical implications. The elimination of knowledge sharing concerns is not enough to enhance team members’ knowledge sharing behaviors. Their roles in knowledge sharing activities should be considered. As knowledge demanders, part of their knowledge seeking concern should be reserved in consideration of its promoting effect on knowledge creating behaviors.
It has also been found that both internal and external rewards can directly promote knowledge seeking, giving and creating behaviors, which provides fully support to hypotheses 3a, 4a and 5a. According to our results of moderating effects, internal rewards can only weaken the relationship between subjective concern and knowledge seeking behavior only when team members play as knowledge demanders. The plausible reason is that it is hard for team members to get tangible compensation from giving knowledge when they play as knowledge possessors. Comparatively, extrinsic rewards can weaken the relationships between subjective concerns and knowledge seeking and giving behaviors. it can be seen that our hypotheses 3b and 4b have been partially supported by our results. This finding suggests that managers should choose appropriate rewards when they aim to release different concerns about specific knowledge sharing behaviors. Furthermore, hypothesis 5b is regarding the moderating effects of intrinsic and extrinsic rewards on the relationships between subjective concerns and knowledge creating behavior. It has been found that intrinsic rewards can strengthen the relationships between subjective concerns and knowledge creating, whereas external rewards can weaken knowledge seeking concern and knowledge creating. Thus, hypothesis 5b is partially supported by our results. These findings can enrich our understanding of the roles of internal and external rewards in the facilitation of knowledge sharing activities.
Limitations and future directions have been discussed on the basis of our findings. First, future research should consider why some people have concerns about knowledge sharing although we have already taken team members’ subjective concerns as knowledge demander and knowledge possessor as antecedents of knowledge sharing behaviors. Second, we have examined the main and moderating effects of intrinsic and extrinsic rewards on three types of knowledge sharing behaviors. However, the underlying mechanism of these main and moderating effects of intrinsic and extrinsic rewards has not been unveiled, which deserves further investigations. Third, this study assumes that intrinsic and extrinsic rewards are independent of each other. In fact, there are some interactive effects between intrinsic and extrinsic rewards. Future research should carry on more thorough investigations, which may bring about more interesting findings.