The increasing complexity of both the environment in which companies operate and of their internal workings, combined with the speed demanded from them, the pressure for innovation, and the scarcity of attention as the ultimate limited resource, make knowledge central to business success today. Knowledge is now seen as a factor of production not only on par with land, labor, and capital, but surpassing them in importance.
Knowledge is a resource or stock in the organization that exist along the organization (Coulson- Thomas, 2003). Knowledge is valuable, rare, not easy to substitute and difficult to imitate. Thus, it makes it a competitive advantage for the organization. As we all know, a firm cannot have the same knowledge as the others' because different firms have different human and knowledge resources (Kim, 2002). Then, there is no organization that can have a total same knowledge.
To survive and compete in the 'knowledge society', companies must learn to manage their intellectual assets. Knowledge is the only resource that increases with use. Knowledge as competitive factors has hit the business headlines with a bang. Companies are urged to make more use of 'hidden treasure' in the minds of their employees. Knowledge is a commodity which is often only transferable in personal exchanges between individuals (Nonaka & Takeuchi, 1995; Spender, 1992). Grant (1996) also regards knowledge as the "most strategically important resource" that an organization possesses.
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According to Davenport & Prusak (2000), as there is rapid change and increasing competition in the business environment, most of the firm tend to seek a sustainable advantage that differentiate them with their competitors. Competitors usually can duplicate the quality and price of one's organization, but it had argue that knowledge that resides in the minds of an organization's employees, customers, and vendors are the most vital resource of today's enterprise to get their sustainable competitive advantage.
Learning how to manage organizational knowledge has many benefits to the firm. These benefits may include leveraging core business competencies, accelerating innovation and time to market, improving cycle times, and decision making, strengthening organizational commitment, and building sustainable competitive advantage (Davenport and Prusak, 1998). In short, they make the organization better suited to compete successfully in a much more demanding environment.
Wah et al (2005) believe that an individual will only involve in knowledge sharing if such conditions exist, namely opportunities to do so, communication modality, expectation of the benefits of members accrue, expectation of the cost of not sharing knowledge, context compatibility for those who shared, motivation is crucial precondition for knowledge sharing, personal compatibility and liking and opportunism (associated with transaction cost analysis). Riege (2005) suggested that three important elements of knowledge sharing are individual, structure and technology would help organization in encouraging knowledge sharing in the organization.
The Importance of Knowledge Management
Presently, Knowledge Management (KM) is considered as a vital part of maintaining competitive advantage in business environment (Becerra, 2004). Basically, there are four sub-processes in Knowledge Management (KM) that includes Knowledge Discovery, Sharing, Capturing, and Application.
Knowledge management has emerged as a label for consciously perceiving and addressing the issues raised by the importance and the availability of knowledge. It consists of more than directly managing knowledge as a resource. Basically, it is concerned with managing the environment of knowledge workers, with creating and maintaining favorable conditions for value creation based on knowledge.
While traditional economies used to rely on tangible assets such as land and capital, today's economy has evolved to treat knowledge as the primary production factor on which competitive advantage rests (Beijerse, 1999). The most important characteristics of knowledge are uniqueness and originality. Once created, knowledge cannot be imitated or substituted, which makes it a key strategic asset resource to all businesses (Cabrera and Cabrera, 2002).
Knowledge among organizational units also wills provides opportunities for mutual learning and inter unit cooperation that stimulate the creation of new knowledge and, at the same time, contribute to organizational units' ability to innovate (Kogut & Zander, 1992; Tsai & Ghoshal, 1998). However, knowledge is often "sticky" and difficult to spread (Szulanski, 1996; Von Hippel, 1994).
In short, knowledge is very important for organizations that continually face downsizing or a high turnover percentage due to the nature of the industry. Knowledge management also important for all organizations because today's decision makers face the pressure to make better and faster decisions in an environment characterized by a high domain complexity and market volatility, even though they may in lack of the experience. Thus, it is very important for everybody.
1.2 Research Background
Always on Time
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Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) is the local and the largest electric utility company in Malaysia and also the largest power company in Southeast Asia. It has many branches around of Malaysia which responsible in the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity and serves over seven million customers throughout Peninsular Malaysia and also the eastern state of Sabah through Sabah Electricity Sdn. Bhd. Researcher have been choose Kota Tinggi branch as research area, instead of including all the branches in Malaysia. Furthermore, this research is about the employees' perception on factors that affecting knowledge sharing.
Significant of this study is to focus how employees' perception on organizational culture and organizational support factors will affect the knowledge sharing in the organization. For organizational culture, researcher will be focusing on employees' perception towards low or high power distance and individualism or collectivism attitude by Hofstede Cultural Dimension (1998). That include how the employees' perceived about their organization culture in encouraging knowledge sharing environment in the organization.
Next, using the elements of management support and rewards by Jones (2001), researcher wants to know whether there is strong relationship between the employees' perception with these two elements of organizational support in encouraging the employees' to share their knowledge with others.
1.3 Tenaga Nasional Berhad at a Glance
Powering the nation for over a decade, Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) is the largest electricity utility company in Malaysia with estimated RM71.4 billion worth in assets. Committed to providing service excellence, our Company is listed on the main board of Bursa Malaysia and employs approximately 28,000 staff to serve a customer base of over seven million in Peninsular Malaysia & Sabah. Today, TNB continues to lead the effort in fostering economic growth & social development in the country.
Recognized for its outstanding performance, regionally & globally, TNB's core businesses comprises of generation, transmission & distribution of electricity. With a total installed generation capacity of about 12,000 MW (including SESB & Kapar Energy Ventures), TNB is trusted for delivering reliable & efficient products & services. In Peninsular Malaysia, TNB contributes to 55 per cent of the total industry capacity through six thermal stations & three major hydroelectric schemes. In addition, TNB manages & operates the National Grid, a comprehensive transmission network that is also interconnected to Thailand and Singapore.
Meanwhile, employees' competencies are continuously enhanced through structured programmes to ensure topmost proficiency, earning TNB remarkable reputation; TNB is ranked 100 from a list of 250 power companies worldwide for the "Power Company of the Year" in the 2008 Platt's Global Energy Awards. In addition, TNB was also the proud winner for The Prime Minister's Industry Excellence Award for 2007. This annual national quality award is given to organizations in the private sector in recognition for their excellent achievement in quality management.
Passionate at what they do, TNB through its subsidiaries, has been successful in other diversified activities, which include manufacturing transformers, high-voltage switchgears & cables as well as in the provision of professional consultancy services.
1.4 Research Problem
Search of past literatures indicate that there are research interests on knowledge sharing but there is lack of research on employees' perception on factors that affecting knowledge sharing in organization, especially in Malaysia. Therefore, this research wills mainly focusing towards the understanding of knowledge sharing among the TNB staff, especially on technical workers.
Then, to find out whether employees' perception on organizational culture and organizational support factors will affect the knowledge sharing in TNB organization.
1.5 Research Objectives
Knowledge sharing has increasingly been viewed as playing a very important role in the exchange, transfer and dissemination of knowledge. It is therefore important to identify the factors that affect knowledge sharing to enable knowledge sharing activities be carried out effectively.
The objective of this study is therefore as follow:
To identify and examine employees' perception on factors that affect knowledge sharing.
1.6 Research Questions
This study addresses the following research questions:
To what level organizational culture encourage knowledge sharing?
How low or high power distance will affect knowledge sharing?
How individualism or collectivism attitude will affect knowledge sharing?
To what level organizational support encourage knowledge sharing?
How management support will affect knowledge sharing?
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How rewards will affect knowledge sharing?
To what extent employees' perceptions on the factors will affect knowledge sharing?
1.7 Research Scope
This scope of study will be focusing primarily at employees' perception on factors that affecting knowledge sharing. Research will be conducted at Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB), Kota Tinggi, Johor which operates as electricity utility company. The study is to find out whether employees' perception on organizational culture and organizational support factors will affect knowledge sharing in that organization. That means, if employee perceives that their organizational culture encourage knowledge sharing, employee tend to easily share their knowledge with others. But, in contrast, they will tend to hoard their knowledge.
Same goes with organizational support factors, how employees' perceives about the management support and rewards in the organization, will affect them to share their knowledge with others.
1.8 Research Limitation
There are some limitations that need to be considered in this study. The limitations are stated as below:
The scope of this study is confined to the employees in Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) Kota Tinggi, Johor. It does not involve other employees in the other branches outside the research area. This is due to limitation of time to conduct the more comprehensive study.
The use of TNB Kota Tinggi employees' as a sampling of study may not reflect the population of employee in other branches in TNB Malaysia.
The findings of this study are limited in terms of the honesty and thoroughness of the respondents in completing the questionnaires.
1.9 Significance of the Study
The implication of this study can be significant value to the company especially for TNB Kota Tinggi as they can find out whether their organizational culture and support will encourage the employees to share their knowledge with their colleagues. The findings could also help the organization to plan initiatives to enhance and encourage knowledge sharing among their employees.
A better understanding about knowledge sharing also will help the organization, especially TNB Kota Tinggi, to increase their performance without having employees that repeating the same mistakes while working.
1.10 Conceptional Definition
Perception can defined as the representation of what is perceived; basic component in the formation of a concept. It also can be a way conceiving something, and the process of perceiving.
According to Oxford Dictionary, perception means the act of perceiving. Some said that perception is cognizance by the senses or intellect and apprehension by the bodily organs, or by the mind, of what is presented to them. Other than that, the quality, state, or capability, of being affected by something internal or external situations is also the definition of perception.
1.10.2 Knowledge Sharing
When we discuss about knowledge sharing, it comes from two different words. First, knowledge, and second is sharing. We will discuss it differently first, before we explain what is knowledge sharing.
Oxford Dictionary Knowledge is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as an expertise, and skills acquired by a person through experience or education; the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject, or what is known in a particular field or in total; facts and information or awareness or familiarity gained by experience of a fact or situation.
According to Becerra-Fernandez et al. (2004) knowledge is quite distinct from data and information, although the three terms are sometimes used interchangeably. A more simplistic view considers knowledge to be at the highest level in a hierarchy with information at the middle, and data to be at the lowest level. Then, knowledge can be defined as the information that enables action and decisions, or information with direction. In other word, knowledge can refers in an area as justified beliefs about relationship among concepts relevant to that particular area (Nonaka, 1994).
While sharing, it can be defined as to allow someone else to use or enjoy something that one possesses. It also means that to participate in, use, enjoy, or experience jointly or in turns. Sharing also indicate that someone willingly to tell a secret or experience, for example to another or others. So, knowledge sharing can be conclude as one person being willingly to tell others about his experience or knowledge due to gain benefit together.
2.0 LITERATURE REVIEW
2.1 Previous Research Relating to Knowledge Sharing
Previous research frameworks are considered to obtain a comprehensive view of the various factors that affect knowledge sharing. A few frameworks are found to be relevant to this study as listed below:
i) A model of organizational knowledge management by Arthur Andersen and APQC (1996)
According to Arthur Andersen and APQC (1996), there are three main elements in knowledge management. That are includes the organizational knowledge, organizational knowledge management processes, and factors that enables knowledge management in one's organization.
These three elements along with their sub-elements are shown in figure 1. According to this model, seven processes are contributing to an organization's knowledge which are create, identify, collect, adapt, organize, apply and share knowledge. The four organizational enablers that influence the execution of these knowledge management processes are leadership, culture, technology and measurement.
Figure 1: Organization KM model (adapted from Arthur Andersen and APQC, 1996)
Share create identify collect adapt organize apply share
ii) A model of factors that contributes to knowledge sharing and its effect on performance by Norizah Supar et al. (2008)
i)Sociability (Goffee & Jones, 1996)
ii)Solidarity (Goffee & Jones, 1996)
iii)Power Distance (Hofstede, 1997)
i)Availability of IT infrastructure (Gottschalk,2002)
ii) Availability of IT for knowledge sharing
ii)Expert vs. distributed model (Dixon, 1999; 2000)
iii)Problem of codification (Nonaka & Takeuchi, 1995)
(Jones, 2001; Wiig, 1999; Elliott & O'Dell, 1999; Riesenberger, 1998)
i) Trust (Pan & Scarbrough, 1998; Clarke & Rollo, 2001; Empson, 2001)
ii) Face-to-face interaction (Dixon, 2000; Haldin-Herrgard, 2000; Davenport & Prusak, 1998)
iii) Reciprocity (Davenport & Prusak, 1998)
iv) Repute (Davenport & Prusak, 1998)
v) Altruism (Davenport & Prusak, 1998)
vi) Acknowledgement (Dixon, 2000)
Organizational Support Factors:
i) Management Support (Jones, 2001; Anthes, 2000)
ii)Rewards (Jones, 2001)
iii)Mentoring (Davenport & Prusak, 1998)
According to Norizah Supar et al. (2008), there are four categories that contribute to knowledge sharing. That includes cultural factors, information technology (IT) factors, communication factors, and organizational support factors.
So, before we further explanations about employees' perception on factors that affecting knowledge sharing, I will start this discussion with the definition of knowledge management, which can be seen as major for knowledge sharing. Then, we will explore about the past literature review on knowledge sharing. Finally, we will discuss about employees' perception on factors that affecting knowledge sharing.
2.2 Knowledge Management
It's become almost an obsolete to talk about the accelerating pace of change in business environment. But undeniably, today's organization seems to experience evolutionary change faster and revolutionary change more frequently. This has made it imperative for firms to manage knowledge actively. Indeed, knowledge management will be the key to organizational success nowadays.
Before exploring how better knowledge management can drive better risk management, it is important to define some key terms. Borrowing from the Western Rationalist and Empiricist traditions, knowledge is argued to be a set of justified beliefs. Gregory Bateson (1979), information is the meaning that human beings assign to incoming data. He described it as "those differences that make a difference".
It follows that the management of knowledge goes far beyond the storage and manipulation of data, or even of information. It is the attempt to recognize what is essentially a human asset buried in the minds of individuals, and leverages it into an organizational asset that can be accessed and used by a broader set of individuals. According to Nonaka (1995), knowledge management requires a commitment to "create new knowledge" disseminate it throughout the organization and embody it in products, service, and systems.
According to Checkland (1981), knowledge management (KM) refers to the systematic organization, planning, scheduling, monitoring, and deployment of people, processes, technology, and environment, with appropriate targets and feedback mechanisms, under the control of a public or private sector concern, and undertaken by such a concern, to facilitate explicitly and specifically the creation, retention, sharing, identification, acquisition, utilization, and measurement of information new ideas, in order to achieve strategic aims, such as improved competitiveness or improved performance, subject to financial, legal, resource, political, technical, cultural, and societal constraints.
To make it easy to understand that those statement, the gist is about "to facilitate explicitly and specifically the creation, retention, sharing, identification, acquisition, utilization, and measurement of information new ideas, in order to achieve strategic aims, such as improved competitiveness.
2.3 Knowledge Sharing
As knowledge becomes more specialized, so does the need for information and knowledge sharing, which can be achieved through oral and written communication among those who possess different pieces of specialized knowledge. This need is motivated by the fact that even though knowledge tends to grow very specialized, most processes in society require the engagement of several individuals, each of them contributing their own piece of knowledge. Thus, ensure the knowledge sharing occurs.
Knowledge sharing can be seen as the exchange of tacit or explicit knowledge between individuals. According to Al- Hawamdeh (2003), knowledge sharing in his perspective refers to "the communication of all types of knowledge" including explicit knowledge (information, know-how, and know-who) and tacit knowledge (skills and competency). McDermot(1999) also describes knowledge sharing as the process of enabling sharers to guide sharers' thinking, or using their insights to assist sharers to examine their own situations.
According to Alavi & Leidner (2001), knowledge sharing is often viewed as a process. Knowledge sharing is a process between individuals which cannot be seen directly nor observed. Van den Hooff et al. (2003) defined knowledge sharing as a process where individuals exchange knowledge (tacit or explicit) and together create new knowledge. According to Al-Hawamdeh (2003), knowledge sharing in a broader perspective refers to 'the communication of all types of knowledge' including explicit knowledge (information, know-how and know-who) and tacit knowledge (skills and competency). Senge (1990) also defined knowledge sharing happens when an individual is really interested in helping others to develop a new capability for action. Thus, knowledge sharing refers to the willingness of individuals in an organisation to share whatever they have or have created.
According to (Becerra and Fernandes, 2004), knowledge sharing can be defined as the process to which explicit or tacit knowledge is communicated to other individuals. Organizations have recognized that knowledge constitutes a valuable intangible asset for creating and sustaining competitive advantages. They also mentioned that there are two sub-processes in knowledge sharing that includes exchange, and socialization. Exchange, basically focus on the sharing of explicit knowledge. While socialization, facilitates the sharing of tacit knowledge. Knowledge sharing activities are generally supported by knowledge management systems. However, there are many factors that affect the sharing of knowledge in organizations, such as organizational culture, trust, and organizational support.
The critical output from knowledge sharing is new knowledge and innovation that will increase organisational performance (Al-Hawamdeh, 2003). According to Cong and Pandya (2003), the benefits of knowledge sharing generally derive from two levels: individual and organisational. At the level of the individual, knowledge management provides the opportunity for workers to enhance their skills by working together and sharing knowledge while improving their own performance. At the organisational level, knowledge management gives two significant benefits: (1) Improves organizational performance through increasing efficiency, productivity, quality and innovation; and (2) Better decision making, improving processes, data integration and broad collaboration. Although knowledge sharing exists among employees, it is meaningless unless the quality can be assured and also applicable to their work (Mohd Bakhari and Zawiyah, 2009).
The Challenges of Knowledge Sharing
The major problems of knowledge sharing are to convince, coerce, direct or otherwise get people within organization to share their information (Gupta et al, 2000). Because sharing is always voluntary, the challenges is to create an environment in which people both want to share what they know and make use of what others know.
According to Chen et al (2008), employees fear to share knowledge with other co-workers as they are not clear on the objectives of sharing and the intent of senior management. Sharing of knowledge was viewed as reducing the employee's position, power or and status. Wheatley (2000) also mentioned that many employees will share their knowledge voluntarily if they perceive the process to be important to their work, if they feel encouraged to share or if they wish to support a certain colleague.
Although individuals recognize the clear advantage for the organization when they contribute to the shared pool or knowledge or reuse knowledge developed and tested somewhere else in the organization, they also have a number of reasons for deciding not to contribute their knowledge. The scale of efforts and resources needed for sharing and reusing the knowledge, and lost opportunities associated with engaging in knowledge sharing are some parameters in the decision about involving or not in knowledge sharing.
Besides carrying the cost of sharing, individuals might feel that they loose economic value and hence bargaining power when they share their knowledge. In that sense, knowledge sharing requires time and carries a threat of loss their power or status (Porter, 1985). Also individuals who receive knowledge from colleagues in the organization may have reservations that make them lazy from seeking new knowledge.
Another that, structure is also important to optimize knowledge sharing process within the firm. And the most significant hurdle of knowledge management or knowledge sharing in particular is organizational culture. Shaping culture is the central of firm's ability to manage its knowledge. Husted et al (2005) reveal that extrinsic motivators such as reward (monetary incentives) are related to knowledge sharing.
Earlier, we examined how to encourage knowledge to come forward. But, this is a slightly different. In this case, you know the employee has the knowledge the team needs but is reluctant to share it. Often people or groups of his mind- set claim their knowledge is so special that it can't or mustn't be shared.
To convince your expert to share his knowledge, you need to work through to make him aware of why it's important to him to share the knowledge. Pay attention to why he thinks it's important for him to hold onto his knowledge. If it's his way of ensuring he'll always be value- added, help him adjust his view of value from hoarding to sharing. Reward him for the small sharing he does.
At individual level, barriers are of two kinds: those affecting the ability to share knowledge, and those affecting them will do so. The ability to share knowledge depends primarily on the individual's talent for communication and his or her social behavior. Willingness, on the other hand, is influenced by many factors. In addition, employees often fear that if they pass on their knowledge to others, they will endanger their own position in the organization.
While generally the big issue is to foster knowledge sharing, be aware that sharing has two major limits. First, there is the issue of confidentiality (O'Dell, Grayson, and Essaides, 1998). Second, privacy issues are becoming more and more important, especially as profiling technologies are increasingly being used (Masterton and Watt, 2000).
Based on the literature review, we have identified that there are many factors that contributes to knowledge sharing. But, there is limited research that focused on elements in organizational culture and organizational support factors that employees perceive contribute to knowledge sharing.
The various elements identified to be studied under these two factors includes, for organizational culture, there are two dimensions by Hofstede (1997) which are low versus high power distance, and individualism versus collectivism. For organizational support factors, we have management support and rewards roles in encouraging knowledge sharing in one's organization based on Jones (2001).
2.4 Organizational Culture Factors
As we all know, organizational culture play an important role to create knowledge sharing environment in one's organization. A culture of knowledge sharing does not happen by accident. In fact, the old practice of hoarding knowledge is so deeply ingrained in business that changing the culture is a major component of shifting into a learning mind-set. The key elements of a knowledge culture are a climate of trust and openness in an environment where constant learning and experimentation are highly valued, appreciated, and supported.
It is often cited that organizational culture is one of the most difficult factors to achieve as well as one of the biggest challenges in promoting knowledge sharing in one's organization. According to Alazmi & Zairi (2003), Davenport et al (1998), and Hasanali (2002) the culture that encourages knowledge sharing is critical to the success of knowledge management in one's organization.
De Long and Fahey (2000) also have established four frameworks regarding the connection between organizational culture and knowledge management. They conclude that organizational culture involves assumptions about what knowledge is important, defines the relationship between group and individual knowledge, creates a context for social interaction, and shapes the process by which new knowledge is created.
Hofstede (1980) defined culture as "...the collective programming of the mind, which distinguishes the members of one group from another". Organizational culture also can be defined as the shared, basic assumptions that an organization learnt while coping with the environment and solving problems of external adaptation and internal integration that are taught to new members as the correct way to solve those problems (Park et al., 2004).
A culture is based on a set of assumptions and beliefs about how the world works. Edgar Schein has defined five categories of assumptions that make up our worldview: the nature of the environment, the nature of reality or truth, time and space, human activity, and human nature. If we would change a culture to support knowledge, then we must challenge our prevailing organizational assumptions and beliefs in each of these areas. We must specifically address the question of how we understand knowledge as it relates to each of these.
Culture change must be handled with great sensitivity to both the realities of the existing culture and the hidden aspects of the new culture that is emerging. People are not naturally resistant to change. We change things all the time when we have the freedom to do so. People do not resist being manipulated. People also must be collaboratively engaged in the creative process of culture changes themselves.
According to Rosabeth Kanter (1994), there are "Five Fs" characterize the most desirable knowledge- oriented culture: fast, flexible, focused, friendly, and fun. Similarly, the knowledge- oriented firm needs to be flexible, which changing business models with the competitive environment. To ensure the knowledge sharing happen, employees want their firms to be focused on the business issues that matter to their firms' success. And because life is short and work is long, employees want their jobs to be friendly and fun.
Specific knowledge-oriented behaviors must also be an integral part of culture. It should be perfectly acceptable, and the most important the culture should also support decision making and action based on knowledge and facts, not because feel and intuition. To
Cultural barriers to sharing knowledge exist in the absence of elements of company culture that would legitimize or support such knowledge sharing (Goodman & Darr, 1996).Thus, the company need to create the right conditions, primarily in the areas of employee management and company culture. The aim of all interventions will be to create sufficient willingness to communicate and share their knowledge.
Organizational culture is of crucial importance for all knowledge management projects (Cook, 1999). Knowledge management will not get anywhere unless the knowledge employees concerned are willing to take part in it (Huysman, De Wit, and Andriessen, 1999). Organizational culture is a key driver and inhibitor of knowledge sharing (O'Dell & Grayson, 1997). An appropriate culture is a question of balance. Fighting entrenched corporate cultures and creating a knowledge-friendly culture is not only one of the most important factors for success, but probably also the most difficult of all challenges in introducing knowledge management.
Organizational culture should stress the value of knowledge for both the individual employee and the company as a whole. Everybody should be aware of the fact that most of the value resides in the minds of the employees (Godbout, 1998). A positive orientation to knowledge is indicated by employees who display not only intelligence, but also curiosity and a willingness to explore and learn both on and off the job, who look to experience and expertise and not only hierarchy, and by executives who encourage the creation and use of knowledge (Davenport, De Long, and Beers, 1998 ).
Organizational culture should therefore promote knowledge sharing (Friedman, 2000). Most importantly, this includes dispelling employees' fears that sharing their knowledge will decrease their power, or in the long run, even cost them their jobs (Davenport, De Long, and Beers, 1998). Through an appropriate culture, knowledge sharing and usage may lead to grater power, both formal and informal, than hoarding knowledge (Cook, 1999). According to Artail, 2006; Reige, 2005), the most effective way to create successful knowledge sharing environment is by fostering trust and promoting a knowledge sharing culture.
According to Hofstede (1997), there are four items in cultural dimensions in one's organization. Its may include low versus high power distance, individualism versus collectivism, masculinity versus feminity, and uncertainty avoidance. So, our next discussion will only focuses on the roles of low versus high power distance, and the individualism versus collectivism as the factors that affecting knowledge sharing based on organizational culture.
2.4.1 Power Distance
This dimension measures how much the less powerful members of institutions and organizations expect and accept that power is distributed unequally. In cultures with low power distance, such as in America, people expect and accept power relations that are more consultative or democratic. People relate to one another more as equals regardless of formal positions. Subordinates are more comfortable with and demand the right to contribute to and critique the decisions of those in power. In cultures with high power distance such as in Malaysia, the less powerful accept power relations that are autocratic or paternalistic. Subordinates acknowledge the power of others based on their formal, hierarchical positions. Thus, Low vs. High Power Distance does not measure or attempt to measure a culture's objective, "real" power distribution, but rather the way people perceive power differences.
According to Hofstede (2001), low power distance supports a participative approach to decision making. The employee tend to be interested and willingly to share their knowledge with their peers. In contrast, high power distance required that employer seeing their employees as their subordinates rather than as their equal. In this case, the employee will hoard their knowledge as they want to feel secure and safe with their position in the organization.
As we all know, traditional organization structures are usually characterized by complicated layers and lines of responsibility with certain details of information reporting procedures. Nowadays, most managers realize the disadvantages of bureaucratic structures in slowing the processes and raising constraints on information flow. In addition, such procedures often consume great amount of time in order for knowledge to filter through every level.
According to Vallas (1998), employees will not share their knowledge among all group members if the groups are constrained by hierarchies or perceived power imbalanced. In other word, people are inhibited by their superior. In fact, hierarchical organizations are not likely to fully engage the skills and knowledge of all employees.
Most employees have a justifiable antipathy toward bureaucracy. They would like to be able to do their work without excessive rules, policies, or formal process. Therefore, top management need to tend off the bureaucracy whenever possible, or at least provide a buffer between it.
A bureaucratic structure works well when conditions are stable, since it emphasizes control and predictability of specific functions. Bureaucratic structure, which is highly formalized, specialized, centralized, and largely dependent on the standardization of work processes for organizational coordination, is suitable for conducting routine work efficiently on large scale. It is common in stable and mature industries with mostly rationalized, repetitive type of work.
However, bureaucratic control can come at the cost of hobbling individual initiative and can be extremely dysfunctional in periods of uncertain and rapid change (Burns and Stalker, 1961). Bureaucracy can generate other dysfunctional characteristics, such as intra- organizational resistance, red tape, tension, shirking of responsibility, means becoming objectives, and sectionalism (Merton, 1994).
Nonaka (1994) argued that the bureaucratic structure is too sluggish in responding to uncertain environments. So, he proposed the model of flatten organization that includes some characteristics, such as tend to be flatter than their hierarchical predecessors, assume a constant dynamic rather than a static structure, support the empowerment of people in building intimacy via customers, emphasize the importance of competencies- unique technologies and skills, and recognize intellect and knowledge as one of the most leverage able assets of a company.
One of the example of flatten organization is a company can design tasks that require cross- functional collaboration to succeed. This order will forces individuals and groups away from the silo mentality and begins to share their knowledge horizontally. That means, all the knowledge from all employees will be accepted by the employer.
2.4.2 Individualism/ Collectivism
This dimension measures how much members of the culture define themselves apart from their group memberships. In individualist cultures, people are expected to develop and display their individual personalities and to choose their own affiliations. In individualism, ties among individuals are very loose. Such cultures are generally driven by self-interest rather than by group interest (Leyland, 2006). Within individualist cultures also, a strong "I" consciousness is operational, self-actualization is valued, and people are encouraged to express private opinions (de Mooij, 2004).
In other word by having individualism perspective, people tend to use "I" identity and promotes to achieve individual goals, and initiative. People are encouraged to do things on their own, to rely on themselves. Beside that, each person is encourage standing out, being unique, and expresses them. Individual rights seen as most important and sometimes, fitting in and conforming to group norms is unnecessary or even discouraged.
On the other hand, in collectivism perspective people are defined and act mostly as a member of a long-term group, such as the family, a religious group, an age cohort, a town, or a profession, among others. In collectivism, it more requires to reinforce the notion of group and inclusion rather than exclusion. They operate on the notion that self-interest is subservient to the society's interest (Trice and Beyer, 1993; Triandis, 1995).
Beside that in collectivist cultures, people usually perceived "we" and not "me" orientation. Each person is encouraged to conform to society, to do what is best for the group and to not openly express opinions or beliefs that go against it. The most important thing, in collectivist, working with others and cooperating is the norm. Refusal to cooperate and wanting to be independent or stand out is seen as shameful. In the other word, everyone in group must help and support each others.
2.5 Organizational Support Factors
The theory that has been utilized in order to study knowledge sharing and motives for knowledge sharing is the social dilemma theory. Seen from a social dilemma theory, knowledge sharing assembles a public- good dilemma where individuals can optimize their own personal gain by utilizing knowledge shared by others and at the same time not contributing with their own knowledge.
Social dilemma theory suggests three interventions to resolve a tragedy of the commons problem and thereby promote knowledge sharing behavior and hence the volume of knowledge sharing in organizations (Cabrera and Cabrera, 2002). First, firms should rebalance the pay- off function either by increasing the perceived reward by sharing or reducing the perceived cost of sharing. Another possible intervention is to increase efficacy perceptions of organizational members. Increasing the employees' belief in that the knowledge they possess actually is valuable to others in the organization make them more inclined to show organization citizen behavior (Connelly and Kelloway, 2003) and actually share their knowledge with others, also when it is more resource demanding. The last intervention is to promote group identity and a sense of shared objectives and responsibility towards the group (Cabrera and Cabrera, 2002).
2.5.1 Management Support
The support of top management and leadership for formal organizational knowledge management initiatives is crucial, as it is with other organizational initiatives that involve chages in processes and employee behavior (Alazmi & Zairi, 2003; Davenport, De Long, & Beers, 1998).
Wong (2005) suggested that it is critical for top management and leadership to support knowledge sharing efforts within the organization as their behavior will influence the likelihood that other employees will engage in knowledge management efforts. Similarly, Davenport et al. (1998) found that having the support of top management and, specifically, having the attitude by executives who model knowledge sharing themselves, fostered an organization that knowledge- oriented.
Management's role should not be limited to sponsorship, but include active participation as well (Ramhorst, 2001). In particular, management should help define the goals and identify which kinds of knowledge are the most important ones to the company and generally focus the knowledge management effort on the core business priorities (Davenport & Prusak, 1998).
At organizational level, knowledge should be seen as a resource which must be used by all for the general benefit, regardless of its provenance. The important question is not where the knowledge came from, but how it can be used well and efficiently to profit the organization.
Management should not only endorse the knowledge management effort, but actually push it forward (Seemann, 1996). Active participation is also required for rewarding behavior that is to be reinforced, for instance by promoting the right people. The most important, senior management support is essential for any knowledge management effort (Storey and Barnett, 2000).
According to Expectancy Theory by Vroom (1964), it said that individual will act in a certain manner based on the expectation that the act will be followed by a certain outcome and on the attractiveness of this outcome for the individual. On the basis of expectancy theory Isaac et al. (2001) suggested that since managers have little control over intrinsic motivators, they can focus on actions such as increasing subordinates' knowledge, skills and abilities, enhancing their self- confidence, creating a climate of mutual respects and some others.
Top management support also influences other factors critical to the success of knowledge sharing in one's organization. Hasanali (2002) suggested that the impact of top management and leadership support is greater for knowledge management as it is an emerging discipline and employees may need the added incentives of a total commitment from their organizations top management and leadership. Management has an important part to play in creating the right culture. It is difficult to increase the sharing and distribution of knowledge in the absence of knowledge-oriented incentives and rewards.
Individuals are said to be extrinsically motivated when they satisfy their needs indirectly, primarily through financial compensation. Extrinsic motivation constitutes of incentives for behaving in a certain way based on the use of a price system. A cornerstone in the use of extrinsic motivation in organizations is rewarding employees for their marginal productivity by making the transactions between employees more explicit and relating the financial reward of individual employees to their contribution to the performance of the organization.
According to Syed-Ikhsan and Rowland (2004), employees need a strong motivator in order to share knowledge. It is unrealistic to assume that all employees are willing to easily offer knowledge without considering what may be gained or lost as a result of this action.
Managers must consider the importance of collaboration and sharing best practices when designing reward systems. The idea is to introduce processes in which sharing information and horizontal communication are encouraged and indeed rewarded. Such rewards must be based on group rather than individual performance (Goh, 2002).
According to Horibe (1999), there are three main types of reward that includes, money, personal, and award programs. The further explanations are as follows:
Money. This includes bonuses, incentive programs, profit sharing, stock options, as well as just plain salary.
Personal Rewards. A moment of public praise for some background work, is by far and away the most powerful way to recognize people.
Award Programs. Many companies have formal award programs. "Employee of the Month" certificates, "Most Valuable Contribution" plaques, instant awards, and others.
Paying more attention on money as a reward is an understandable and automatic assumptions. Using the money at least can ensure the workers to share their knowledge with their other peers in the organization. In this case, money as reward has a role in attracting and ensuring the sharing knowledge occurs within those people.
Personal rewards believed have the big impact in one's individual. As the manager, you can give them a personal reward such as praise for their willingness to share the knowledge. So, it's just not give satisfaction to that worker, but it also will motivate the other workers to share their knowledge next time.
Next, award programs may include the personal recognition. Personal recognition is a powerful way to reward employees one- to-one. As already mentioned, the award should be the tangible expression of the personal recognition, not a substitute for it. By all means, hand over the plaque, trophy, but accompany it with words that will stay longer in the recipient's heart and infuse the award itself with the meaning you intend. It is how the award programs can have the power to inspire and motivate the workers to share their knowledge.
Incentive and reward systems alone will not be enough to motivate employees, but they may help (Seemann, 1996). Both collective improvement and individual contributions should be rewarded (O'Dell & Grayson, 1997). Knowledge sharing must at least receive appropriate recognition (Smith and Farquhar, 2000).
Precisely what behaviors should be rewarded will differ from case to case. The most difficult behavior to achieve, and therefore the most obvious candidate for incentives, is generally knowledge sharing Often, it may also make sense to reward employees for taking the time to seek out and utilized available knowledge (O'Dell & Grayson, 1997). Rewarding teamwork or the use of knowledge management application has also proven useful in many cases (Hildebrand, 1999).
Indeed, reward are relevant not only to knowledge sharing, but also to other aspects of integrating knowledge, such as overcoming the not-invented-here syndrome by getting employees to look for and integrate knowledge available outside the company.
The most important, according to Bartlett and Goshal (1998), they suggest that one way to reward in order to encourage knowledge sharing is based on groups rather than solely financial success. This is because, if organization gives reward based on the individual, rewarding will only tends to encourage competition among employees. Next, it will make the employees to hoard their knowledge.
The best example of the organization that gives rewards based on group is Nucor Steel. In that case, they believed that rewarding groups for sharing their knowledge is more effective than based on individual. This is because they believed when there is one of the group members did not want to share her or his knowledge, all the group members will not get the reward, such as bonuses, and etcetera.
1.6 THEORITICAL FRAMEWORK
Below is the theoretical framework of how employees' perception on organizational culture and organizational support factor will affect knowledge sharing in TNB organization.
Employees' Perception on Organizational Culture
Low/ High Power Distance
Individualism vs. Collectivism
Employees' Perception on Organizational Support
In this section, we try to see whether those factors really have significant relationship to knowledge sharing in that particular organization. This hypothesis that we want to examine include these three aspects as follows:
Ho : There is no significant relationship between employees' perception on
organizational culture factor with ability to affect knowledge sharing.
H1 : There is significant relationship between employees' perception on
organizational culture factor with ability to affect knowledge sharing.
Ho : There is no significant relationship between employees' perception on
organizational support factor with ability to affect knowledge sharing.
H1 : There is significant relationship between employees' perception on
organizational support factor with ability to affect knowledge sharing.