The Role of Trust


The role of trust is very much important in knowledge transfer. Trust is very much important for knowledge based company as marketplace swap of knowledge gives rise to elevated level of uncertainty and risk. This risk and uncertainty can be reduced by the presence of high level of trust (Joanne Roberts, 2000). This view is supported by D. Sandy Staples & Jane Webster who used social exchange theory to develop model relating trust to knowledge sharing and knowledge sharing to team effectiveness. They used hypothesis method to show that knowledge sharing among the team is associated with interpersonal trust of others in the team. Also team's effectiveness is associated with knowledge sharing. In knowledge sharing, interpersonal trust comes into play because requestors should allow themselves to be open to their colleagues, for instance, by accepting their lack of knowledge in a certain domain (Gray, 2001). The requestors should also trust that accurate and helpful information will be provided from his team members. Similarly, information provider should also trust that appropriate use of knowledge will take place. Sharing wont take place without trust as individual will not be actively socializing.

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 Depending on the strength of situational structure the task of trust vary. Due to the lack of other mechanisms trust enables the transfer of knowledge. Trust has vital affirmative effects in situation with low structure. In situations with stronger structures, trust plays a weaker role. So power of trust is affected by task interdependencies structural factor. Under high task interdependence, trust is higher among team members and has relatively strong structural condition. Therefore, dependability on trust will be fewer. As the reliance is lower in case of low task interdependence (weak structure) trust play important in knowledge transfer. 

Virtual teams are often created to allow people with different backgrounds, expertise and perspectives to work on a problem. However D. Sandy Staples & Jane Webster showed that being virtual does not appear to hurt the relations between trust and knowledge sharing.

ICT also plays important role in knowledge transfer. Joanne Roberts contradicts this statement by saying that ICT plays important role in transferring explicit knowledge, for tacit knowledge face to face communication is vital. So trust is important in transferring explicit knowledge via ICT.


D. Sandy Staples & Jane Webster showed using hypothesis method that task interdependence does affect the relation between trust and knowledge sharing, and team structure and balance both affect the relation between knowledge sharing and performance.

Joanne Roberts showed us that trust is important for explicit knowledge to transfer via ICT.

Obstacles to the implementation of KM

There are many obstacles in implementation of successful knowledge management (KM) like structure of organization, organization culture, management of organization etc. Talking about management of organisation as obstacle Chinho Lin and Shu-Mei(2005)has shown this as gap between knowledge required for organisation competitiveness as seen by top managers and implementation plan for knowledge management. The Chinho Lin and Shu-Mei(2005) says that "although top managers recognize the need for the acquisition of knowledge, they may not be able to define the knowledge clearly due to their inability to effectively describe what they need". He means to say that inability of managers to think of required knowledge into the implementation plan of knowledge management system, results in gap which is the difference between the view of the top-level managers and implementation plan for the knowledge management system. To eliminate this obstacle, he says that the firm needs to make a full knowledge management plan which can amalgamate the knowledge capability of all departments to make value for the organization. There must be evenness between the organisation mission and knowledge strategy to successful implement knowledge management system (Holsapple and Singh, 2001).

Organisation culture is one of the most serious obstacles to the successful implementation of knowledge management. Microsoft has divided it into two parts knowledge sharing and the fear of innovation (Microsoft Corporation, 1999). This view is supported by (Ndlela and Toit, 2001) who says that "employees must be allowed to experiment in order to be knowledgeable. Employees should not be afraid of committing mistakes, and should be encouraged to share the lessons learned so that the same mistake will not be repeated"(Ndlela and Toit, 2001). They further say that information technology is just the tool to help in implementation of knowledge management system, managing knowledge assets and integrating people from different departments. People alone are responsible for implementation of knowledge management (Ndlela and Toit, 2001). Problem is with the people, people does not show their knowledge they keep it tacit. They also fear that sharing of knowledge may lose their job. This problem can be solved by giving incentives to employees. Furthermore, even if they are keen to share, there is insufficient interactions among departments, poor knowledge management strategies, new situations are treated in old manners, and access to knowledge is difficult. Additionally, a sharing platform, learning focus, useful knowledge and general sharing are missing. Also reusability of knowledge is not concentrated. These were some of root cause of problems while implementation of knowledge management.


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We have seen that Chinho Lin and Shu-Mei(2005) Tseng gave a management-oriented structure to describe the problems that may arise during implementation of knowledge management system. They also gave reasons for these gaps and provide several basic approaches to solve these gaps, which could be a useful for organisation during implementation of knowledge management system.

We have also seen Holsapple and Singh solution to the implementation gap and Ndlela and Toit views of problems with people of not sharing their knowledge.


  • Lin, C, Tseng, S 2005, 'The implementation gaps for the Knowledge management system', Industial Management and Data Systems,  Singh, M, Shankar, R, Narain, R, Kumar. A 2006, 'Survey of knowledge management practices in Indian manufacturing industries', Journal of Knowledge Management, vol 10, no. 6, pp. 110-128.

    In today's competitive world, knowledge is considered to be an asset that needs to be managed efficiently to remain in competition. It is important to capture knowledge to help solving future problems. John Stapleton (2005) explains this by taking construction project as an example. Each construction project has its won unique problem. Anticipatory measures can be applied by determining the probable problems at designing and planning stage. Often as time goes knowledge is exchanged among different generations (Modesitt, 1992) but due to temporary culture of contracts and mobile project teams knowledge is gone astray when employees move from one company to another (Kasvi et al., 2003). Hence the importance of knowledge capture.

    While capturing knowledge there are different issues which are to be considered like different cultures, network, motivational, communication, individual's issues, structure of enterprises etc. Often senior professionals don't exchange knowledge as they see it as their supremacy. In medium or small organisation often via network knowledge is captured, network cannot probably be aware of whole knowledge if these organisations expand. Also the geographical separation of sites would have detrimental effect on capture of knowledge.

    (John Stapleton, 2005). Also there are motivation issues for medium and small companies as knowledge capture process are to be rewarded in meaningful way that could encourage employees. Here training staff in use of current knowledge can be possible solution. Often technical and financial are also major problem for these organizations like lack of standardization of the system, practical difficulties in accessing intranet and explicit knowledge. For these small organisations knowledge capture can be costly, labour intensive and see it as liability rather then an asset.(Subhashi, Charles and Bimal, 2005).

    There is menace of losing vital knowledge if these problems are not solved. The following approaches were demonstrated to be practical and successful by John and Tony (2005) i.e., while capturing knowledge every member should participate and process of capturing knowledge should be incorporated with overall process of project.


    Thus we have seen various problems and possible solution for small and medium organisations for capturing vital knowledge.


  • • Hari, S, Egbu, C , Kumar, B 2005, 'A knowledge capture awareness tool: An empirical study on small and medium enterprises in construction industry', Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, vol 12, no. 6, pp. 533-567. • Stapleton, J, Matsumotu, I, Glass, J, Thorpe, T 2005, 'A knowledge-capture report for multidisciplinary design environments ', Journal of Knowledge Management, vol. 9 no. 3, pp. 83-92. • Jensen, P, Webster, E, 2009,'Knowledge management: does capture impede creation?', Industrial and Corporate Change, Volume 18, Number 4, pp. 701-727.