Empirical Study In Organizations In Vietnam Management

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1. Introduction

Knowledge has been identified as one of the most important resource that contributes to the competitive advantage of an organization (Applegate et. al, 1996). Since early 1990's, many organizations moving towards the implementation of Knowledge Management to achieve the competitive advantage among their competitors.

Recently, the importance of knowledge within organizations has been addressed by several researchers (e.g. Alavi & Leidner, 2001; Becerra-Fernandez & Sabherwal, 2001; Berman, Down & Hill 2002; Bock et al., 2005). However, knowledge resides within individual (Nonaka and Konno 1998) and, more specifically, in the employees who create, recognize, archive, access, and apply knowledge in carrying out their tasks.

One part of managing knowledge is knowledge sharing. Knowledge sharing can be used as a tool for retaining and developing new knowledge in the organization. Consequently, the movement of knowledge across individual and organizational boundaries, into and from repositories, and into organizational routines and practices is ultimately dependent on employees' knowledge-sharing intention.

Although knowledge sharing field have been carried out in Western and South-East Asian countries but they do in different ways. This research is to develop an understanding of the factors that support or constrain the individual's knowledge sharing behavior in the Vietnamese organizations, and how they eventually influence the knowledge sharing intentions that lately cause the sharing knowledge behaviors.

2. Literature review

A revision of literature regarding KM shows a variety of definitions and viewpoints to knowledge and Knowledge Management (Small and Sage, 2005/2006). Nonaka recognizes knowledge as a multidimensional concept (Nonaka, 1994); likewise Davenport and Prusak (1998) recognize knowledge as something deeper and richer than data or information. Bartol and Srivastava (2002) consider knowledge a broad concept which "includes information, ideas and expertise relevant for tasks performed by individuals, teams, work units and the organisation as a whole". Despite different wordings, there is a common agreement among academics and practitioners that knowledge is a vital resource for organizations' success. The late Drucker (1999) states that most part of today's work is knowledge work. Knowledge sharing practices coordinate organizational knowledge bases with knowledge workers and vice versa (Nonaka and Konno, 1998). Knowledge sharing takes place when organizational members share organization-related information, ideas, suggestions and expertise with each other (Bartol and Srivastava, 2002).

Besides, Pierce and Gardner (2004) suggested that an employee's organization-based self-esteem (OBSE) has a great effect on his motivation, attitudes, and behaviors within an organization. OBSE can be conceptualized as an employee's belief that he can satisfy his needs by participating in an organizational role (Pierce, et al., 1989). People with high OBSE will believe themselves to be important, capable, and worthwhile as organizational members.

Another factor that seems to have a considerable impact on knowledge sharing is organizational climate. To some practitioners, creating a knowledge sharing culture is one of the main concerns when devising a KM program (Reid, 2003). Without a proper atmosphere in organizations, other attempts to share knowledge might be pointless. A meager social climate in an organization might lessen the level of engagement in knowledge sharing (Van Den Hooff and Van Weenen, 2004). In addition, the lack of an aspiring culture to communicate and explore new ideas may become a major barrier to knowledge sharing (Sun and Scott, 2005). Concerned about these kinds of setbacks, managers try to provide favorable climate for knowledge sharing. In addition, managers play some other important roles: they grant extrinsic rewards (Saleh and Wang, 1993; Kankanhalli et al., 2005; Bock et al., 2005). But even when organizations provide technological facilities and demand employees to share their knowledge, in most cases, employees are the ones who finally decide whether to share their knowledge (Constant et al., 1994). Although motivation and expertise might account for individual participation in knowledge sharing (Wang and Lai, 2006) it is not always easy to predict when and why employees share their knowledge (Duguid, 2005). Thus, individual factors are also among those key elements that need to be considered while studying knowledge sharing behavior (Nonaka, 1994; Constant et al., 1994; Jarvenpaa and Staples, 2000; Bock et al., 2005; Wasko and Faraj, 2005; Kankanhalli et al., 2005; Kuo and Young, 2008).

3. Research model

Since our focus was on knowledge sharing behavior, we developed our model based on the theory of reasoned action (TRA) ((Ajzen and Fishbein 1980). This theory implies that a person's intention is a key determiner of behaviour (Sheeran and Orbell, 1999). Each of the TRA elements include attitude toward behavior, subjective norms, behavioral intention.

Attitude toward a specific behavior is defined as a person's evaluation of that behavior when deciding to perform it (Kim et al., 2009). Attitude toward knowledge sharing can be predicted by evaluating employee's belief about knowledge sharing (Ajzen and Fishbein, 1970), furthermore the perceived consequences of knowledge sharing can influence attitude toward this behavior (Chiou, 1998). Behavioral control is the person's perception of the extent to which s/he has control over a specific behavior (Ajzen and Fishbein, 2005). People's knowledge sharing is affected by their confidence in the opportunities and resources that enables them to share their knowledge. Intentions are affected by the person's approval of distinctive norms; thereby the person tends to adapt to norms and is rationally criticisable whenever s/he ignores them (Bratman, 2009). In other words, intentions are formed by the motivational factors that affect behavior; they are indicators of people's willingness to try hard.

As Ajzen and Fishbein suggest it's possible to add some other behavior-specific variables to the TRA; thus, we reinforced the TRA model by adding some other factors that were considered as effective predictors by previous studies (Armitage and Conner, 1999; Kankanhalli et al., 2005; Bock et al., 2005; Kuo and Young, 2008).

Many organizations have established reward systems in order to motivate employees to share their knowledge (Bartol and Srivastava, 2002). Knowledge sharing is most likely to occur when employees perceive that incentives exceed costs (Kelly and Thibaut 1978). Rewards are likely to affect people's behavior (Homans, 1974). Absence of clear reward and recognition systems may frustrate employees to share their knowledge (Riege, 2005). Introducing a proper knowledge sharing incentive system can promote organizational members' knowledge contribution (Chua, 2003). Hence, we suggest the following hypothesis:

H1: anticipated extrinsic reward has positive relationship with the attitude toward knowledge sharing.

Social exchange differs from economic exchange in that its value is not defined clearly. Organ and Konovsky (1989) remark social exchange establishes bonds of friendship with others, and creates unspecified obligations. It means that the value of social exchange lies in the maintenance of long-term relationships itself, and not necessarily by any extrinsic benefit (Blau 1967).

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