Knowledge Sharing Across Organizations. Determinants, Prerequisites and Limits of Knowledge Sharing Across Organizational Boundaries


Hausarbeit (Hauptseminar), 2016
23 Seiten, Note: 1,7
Anonym

Leseprobe

Table of content

List of figures

List of tables

List of abbreviations

1 Introduction

2 Definitions
2.1 Knowledge sharing
2.2 Types of knowledge

3 Determinants of knowledge sharing across organizational boundaries
3.1 Influencing organizational factors of knowledge sharing across organizational boundaries
3.2 Influencing knowledge characteristic factors of knowledge sharing across organizational boundaries
3.3 Influencing individual factors of knowledge sharing across organizational boundaries

4 Relationship between the factors that influence interorganizational knowledge sharing

5 Conclusion

List of references

List of figures

Figure 1: An integrative framework: Factors influencing knowledge sharing across organizational boundaries

List of tables

Table 1: Major studies on influential factors of knowledge sharing across organizational boundaries

List of abbreviations

Abbildung in dieser Leseprobe nicht enthalten

Abstract

Recently, various studies have identified knowledge as the most valuable resource and key factor in achieving sustainable competitive advantage. However, most organizations do not possess all crucial knowledge within their organizational boundaries and must rely on linkages across them. Surprisingly, most of the studies focus on knowledge sharing in organizations within their boundaries. Especially, few papers take into account which factors increase and which hinder firms to share knowledge across organizational boundaries. In order to fill this gap, this paper presents a review of the state-of-the-art literature on knowledge sharing across organizational boundaries. This paper will address the following research questions: Which key factors influence the decision whether knowledge is shared across organizational boundaries or not and how are these factors interlinked with each other? The objective of this paper is to contribute to a better understanding of determinant factors influencing interorganizational knowledge sharing. The present paper contributes to knowledge sharing discussions by shedding light on which factors have a significant impact on interorganizational knowledge sharing and how these factors are interrelated. Based on the literature I identified eight influential factors of interorganizational knowledge sharing and present a framework for understanding the different impacts among themselves.

1 Introduction

“What matters is not whether others win -it´s a fact of life that they sometimes win…. Sometimes the best way to succeed is to let others do well, including your competitors.” (Brandenburger/Nalebuff 1996, p. 38)

Research over the last 30 years shows that knowledge is seen as the most valuable resource and provides a sustainable advantage in a competitive economy. As strategic management sees knowledge as the key source of competitive advantage and the firm as a bundle of knowledge (Nonaka/Takeuchi 1995; Grant 1996), it is generally agreed that no organisation contains more than a tiny piece of the totality of the knowledge. Obviously, within one´s organizational boundary there is not all the knowledge the organisation could benefit from (Macdonald/Williams 1993, p. 418). Therefore, firms have to share knowledge with each other and learn from the experiences of others in order to keep up with the increasingly fast rate of changes in every industry (Darr/Kurtzberg 2000, p. 29). There still exists much information and knowledge outside of the boundary which is important to remain competitive.

In general, knowledge can be acquired from many sources: from within the firm, from other firms, from suppliers and customers and even from competitors. Although it is known that interorganizational knowledge sharing (IOKS) enhances organizational learning and can promote innovations (Darr/Kurtzberg 2000, p. 29), many studies focus on intraorganizational knowledge sharing (Argote/Ingram 2000; Goh 2002; Ipe 2003). It has been shown from many scholars that organisations need to share knowledge with other organizations even with their competitors (von Hippel 1987; Schrader 1991), in order to gain competitive advantage (Soekijad/Andriessen 2003, p. 578). Moreover, the importance of knowledge sharing across organizational boundaries for firms economic success is highlighted by many scholars (Schrader 1991; Convay 1995; Appleyard 1996). Therefore, knowledge management across organizational boundaries is determinant whether an organization develops skills and competencies and gains competitive advantage where knowledge sharing is characterized as the most important process in knowledge management. Consequently, IOKS has emerged as an underlying theme in strategy and organization research.

Prior studies have investigated the role of knowledge characteristics, like ambiguity, in determining knowledge sharing (Simonin 1999). Other studies have focused on

organizational factors like the degree of competition or the firm´s expectations of 1

reciprocity when sharing knowledge (von Hippel 1987; Schrader 1991), while others

focused on the interpersonal factors trust (Muthusamy/White 2005) and friendship (Convay 1995) in determining IOKS. Nevertheless, no study has attempted to summarize these previous studies which focused on various factors influencing IOKS. There are still lacking papers which give a review of influential factors of IOKS in order to contribute to a better overall understanding.

Seeking to understand the different factors influencing IOKS, this paper contributes to the existing literature by examining the following research questions: Which key factors influence the decision whether knowledge is shared across organizational boundaries or not and how are these factors interlinked with each other? This paper seeks to answer these research questions by reviewing several research of IOKS. A detailed overview of the literature on key influential factors that have significant impact on IOKS, distinguishing between organizational, knowledge characteristic and individual factors, is established.

So, the purpose of this paper is to review key research in knowledge sharing determinants across organizational boundaries to identify the most important factors which influence IOKS. Each of these factors is discussed separately and integrated into a framework to explain in which relationship they are linked and how they are influencing IOKS. This paper suggests that a firm´s critical resources may span organizational boundaries and will therefore focus on IOKS with regard to knowledge sharing between firms and between competitors. This paper doesn´t consider knowledge sharing between project teams within one organisation who are dispersed geographically but belonging to one firm as many papers examined before (e.g. Kaupilla et al. 2011) or knowledge sharing between competing researchers (Häussler et al. 2014).

The paper is organized as follows: In the following section, I give a brief overview to the types of knowledge and the meaning of IOKS. In section 3, there will be a review with major studies on factors influencing IOKS classified through the three categories: organizational, knowledge characteristic and individual factors. Subsequently, in section 4 an integrative framework for understanding the relationship between the influential factors of IOKS is presented. In section 5 the conclusion will be drawn.

2 Definitions

2.1 Knowledge sharing

Scholars have used diverse terms and expressions to define knowledge sharing and could not agree to one universally accepted definition. For instance, Nonaka (1994, p. 15) defines knowledge as “justified true belief” and highlights truthfulness as an important attribute of knowledge. According to Nonaka and Takeuchi (1995, p. 58) knowledge is defined “as a dynamic human process of justifying personal belief toward the truth”. According to the authors knowledge is created with the beliefs and commitments of its holders. Polanyi (1966) puts knowledge into two categories, explicit and tacit knowledge, which is explained subsequently.

While some researchers define knowledge sharing as “basically the act of making knowledge available to others within an organization” (Ipe 2003, p. 341), others define knowledge sharing “as the transfer of useful know-how or information across company lines” (Appleyard 1996, p. 138). This definition of knowledge sharing is directly linked to interorganizational transfer of the firm´s knowledge between firms and the type of the knowledge which is tacit. For the purpose of this paper, knowledge sharing will be defined from the perspective of Appleyard in order to take into account the interorganizational perspective.

2.2 Types of knowledge

Since the focus of this paper is knowledge sharing, it is useful to define the two types of knowledge. The distinction of knowledge in tacit and explicit knowledge was first presented by Polanyi (1966) and adopted by many other scholars:

1. Explicit knowledge

Explicit knowledge is known as “hard knowledge” that can be easily codified, articulated and captured. It is characterized by what is written or recorded in manuals, patents, reports, documents, assessments and databases and can be therefore easily shared through technology-driven processes like information systems (Goh 2002, p. 27).

2. Tacit knowledge

Tacit knowledge in contrast is known as “soft knowledge” which is personal, complex and gained over many years through personal insights. It is often referred to know-how which is embedded in the practices of the employee of an organization (Kachra/White 2008, p. 426) and therefore hard to formalize and difficult to share (Inkpen/Dinur 1998, p. 456). This indicates that tacit knowledge can be best transferred through interpersonal 3 processes like personal intranets or face-to-face conversations (Goh 2002, p. 27). Thus, sharing tacit knowledge indicates an investment of time and resources by the source and the recipient in order to trade this type of knowledge between two units (Kachra/White 2008, p. 426).

These two distinctions of knowledge have a significant influence on the way knowledge is shared across firms. As a result, tacit knowledge known as difficult to share, is considered as one influential factor of IOKS and is discussed in section 3.2.

3 Determinants of knowledge sharing across organizational boundaries

Based on a review of theory and research related to knowledge sharing across organizational boundaries, the following have been identified as the major factors that influence IOKS: Economic perspective, reciprocity, competition, value of knowledge, ambiguity and tacitness of knowledge, knowledge availability, friendship and trust. These influential determinant factors of knowledge sharing between firms can be classified into three broad categories: Organizational, knowledge characteristic and individual factors. In the following these most frequently studied factors of IOKS are distributed to the three categories, discussed and key findings are illustrated in Table 1, after section 3.3.

3.1 Influencing organizational factors of knowledge sharing across organizational boundaries

There are several influential factors of knowledge sharing across organizational boundaries which have to be mentioned in an organizational context with regard to economic explanations. Prevailing research is induced from von Hippel (1987), Carter (1988), Schrader (1991) and Appleyard (1996) and will be discussed in the following and complemented with recent studies.

The first organizational factor influencing IOKS, economic perspective, consists of expected benefits from sharing knowledge and expected costs associated with trading costs. The general tenet is that knowledge sharing decisions are made by firms weighing the expected benefits and costs with regard to the IOKS. Several scholars support the hypothesis that manager´s knowledge sharing decision is influenced by the costs and benefits that IOKS would create (Carter 1988; Appleyard 1996; Loebbecke/van Fenema 1998). Thereby, costs are characterized through reducing firms rents by sharing valuable knowledge while benefits describe the chance of receiving valuable knowledge in return (Schrader 1991, p. 163).

On the one hand, costs can outweigh the expected benefits and therefore negatively influence IOKS. The underlying rationale is that knowledge sharing can occur costs for the trading firm and thus negatively influence IOKS. Under the circumstance that firms rival within the same dimension and no other source of this knowledge is available to the inquirer, costs of sharing the knowledge can outweigh the expected benefits of IOKS. A well-known supporter of this assumption is Carter (1988, p. 158) who identifies “competitive backlash” as costs to the knowledge sharer due to the loss of the monopolistic position associated with unique access to a given technology. She argues that sharing knowledge does not induce costs due to the loss of the knowledge, but rather sacrificing profits can explain the occurrence of trading costs (Carter 1988, p. 158). Similarly, Appleyard (1996, p. 138) states that firms who share their knowledge with a competitor do not only share its knowledge but also monopoly rights allowing the firm to charge premium prices or to have lower costs. According to Appleyard (1996, p. 139) firms should only share knowledge to a competitor if they reciprocate useful knowledge in return. Otherwise the firm gives up the monopoly over the knowledge and has to share the rents without receiving benefits in return (Appleyard 1996, p. 139). Similarly, Loebbecke and van Fenema (1998, p. 1633) found that firms should not share their knowledge if benefits are outweighed by potential losses from giving up their monopoly position. But, if the shared knowledge does not relate to the specific dimension in which the two firms compete or the knowledge is easily available through an alternative source, knowledge can be shared without expected rent losses (Schrader 1991, p. 165). To sum it up, “competitive backlash” as costs to the knowledge trader occurs if firms rival in the same dimension and no other sources of the requested knowledge is available.

On the other hand, benefits can outweigh the expected costs and therefore positively influence IOKS. The general tenet is that knowledge is shared with the expectation of receiving economically valuable knowledge in return which creates economic benefits for the sharing firm. According to Schrader (1991, p. 165) the hypothesis that technical employees trade knowledge to employees of competing firms could be confirmed. In summary, the first determinant whether firms share knowledge with each other depends on economic costs for the transferring firm and their expected benefits. Reciprocity, competition and availability of alternative knowledge sources have an impact on the economic perspective and therefore are decisive whether a firm does or does not share knowledge with another firm.

The second organizational factor influencing IOKS, reciprocity, is considered to be one of the fundamental determinants of knowledge sharing across organizations boundaries. Many scholars have indicated that reciprocity positively influences IOKS. It is characterized by the fact that employees trade knowledge in the expectation that they receive valuable knowledge in return. This will mean, that support from other firms comes with the obligation to reciprocate it in the future. According to Schrader (1991, p. 163) benefits from sharing knowledge comes from the increasing chance of receiving valuable knowledge in return. Therefore, reciprocity can be viewed as a source of expected benefits and thus positively influences them. Moreover, employees expectation of receiving valuable knowledge in return increases, if they share valuable knowledge to the inquirer, as well (Schrader 1991, p. 166). Data collected from a survey of 294 technically oriented middle-level managers from the U.S. speciality steel and mini-mill industry provide strong evidence that knowledge is shared with the expectation of receiving valuable knowledge in return, which leads to benefits for the sharing firm (Schrader 1991, p. 166). It can be noted that if valuable knowledge is shared, it positively influences the likelihood of reciprocity. Leading scholars like von Hippel (1987), Carter (1988), Schrader (1991), and Dahl and Pederson (2004) support the hypothesis that knowledge is more likely traded with the expectation of receiving valuable knowledge in return.

On the one hand, reciprocity can be viewed from an organizational self-interested point of view, because sharing knowledge is based on mutual exchange. The underlying rationale is that firms would weaken their relationship to the sharing firm, if they refuse to share knowledge in return. Thus firms, who do not reciprocate, prevent the chance of gaining benefits from knowledge received in the future. Scholars, like Schrader (1991) and Dahl and Pederson (2004), support this approach. As a result, reciprocity has a positive impact on receiving benefits in the future leading to IOKS.

On the other hand, reciprocity can be viewed from a social point of view because refusing to share knowledge in return may induce feelings of guilt and a bad reputation. This approach is supported by Schrader (1991, p. 157) and Muthusamy and White (2005, p. 419), who found that reciprocal commitment, as a sense of duty, includes strong feelings of moral obligation to repay. But, it has to be considered that even if reciprocity positively influences IOKS, it is difficult to force from other firms. Therefore social exchange demands for trusting others to reciprocate in the future (Muthusamy/White 2005, p. 418). In summary, reciprocity as a positively influencing factor of IOKS is interlinked with other factors. First, reciprocity positively influences expected benefits as a source.

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Details

Titel
Knowledge Sharing Across Organizations. Determinants, Prerequisites and Limits of Knowledge Sharing Across Organizational Boundaries
Hochschule
Universität Passau
Veranstaltung
Designing and Refining Organizational Boundaries
Note
1,7
Jahr
2016
Seiten
23
Katalognummer
V347109
ISBN (eBook)
9783668366015
ISBN (Buch)
9783668366022
Dateigröße
646 KB
Sprache
Deutsch
Schlagworte
knowledge, sharing, across, organizations, determinants, prerequisites, limits, organizational, boundaries
Arbeit zitieren
Anonym, 2016, Knowledge Sharing Across Organizations. Determinants, Prerequisites and Limits of Knowledge Sharing Across Organizational Boundaries, München, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/347109

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