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There are various variables that are involved in the effective implementation of Knowledge Management Systems (KMS) in the support of Knowledge Management in organizations. These variables are classified according to their task in the decision making process of organizations.
The various organizational tasks include group activity, complexity, difficulty, behavior requirements, unitary tasks, group member relationships and task performance processes, and the duty presented to the group or individual (Chang, Yeh, & Yeh, 2007). The evaluation of task relationship and its relation to KMS variables is based on the assessment of their contribution to the main activities of KM. These activities are knowledge generation, knowledge sharing, and knowledge codification.
These variables can be divided into various categories including organizational factors, interpersonal and team characteristics, cultural characteristics, individual characteristics and motivational factors. In a larger perspective, these variables are categorized into individual learning, socialization, externalization and combination, and internalization and storage (Chiu, Hsu, & Wang, 2006).
Studies show that individuals are influenced by multiple work attitudes and behaviors that influence their dispositions in the process of sharing knowledge.
Individual characteristics influence the norm of reciprocity in terms of in that it defines what the individual gives and receives from an organization. This is, in turn, influenced by the individual’s openness to experience. High openness to experience results in a thirst for more information as individuals tend to share more information and expect to be provided with the ideas and insights of other individuals.
Other factors influencing the reciprocal benefits include the level of comfort and ability to use collaborative platforms for information sharing. As a result, individuals with higher level of education and more work experience are more likely to share relevant information with others than those who lack confidence in their abilities (Bock, Zmud, Kim, & Lee, 2005).
One of the vital motivational factors is the belief of ownership of knowledge, whereby the individual is more willing to share information of they believe that they have the necessary knowledge. The ability of employees to share information is based on their internal satisfaction, which is influenced by various facilitating conditions provided by the organization, such as time, organizational structure, IT, and leadership, among others (Collins & Smith, 2006).
The second motivational factor for the individual to share information within an organization pertains to the perceived benefits and costs. Studies show that individuals assess the perceived ratio of benefits to costs in their decision making process. The process of sharing knowledge is influenced by the need for respect, reputation, and incentives that build on various adoption factors including perceived usefulness, perceived ease of use, perceived enjoyment, perceived behavioral control, and perceived attitude towards use.
If the individual expects more costs than benefits, then they are likely to be unwilling to share their knowledge. On the other hand, enhanced internal satisfaction, and the perceived obligation to reciprocate the information acquired from colleagues can lead to enhanced knowledge sharing (King & Marks, 2008).
Knowledge sharing is also influenced by interpersonal relationships, which include trust and justice. The elements of trust and affect are useful in the development of a mutual association between team members and communities.
Identification of individuals with either other team members or communities depends on the level of trustworthiness that is determined by capability, integrity, and benevolence. Studies show that individuals share less information when they regard their colleagues as capable, and share more information with honest and principled individuals (Liao, 2006).
Individual behaviors in team and organizational settings are also influenced by beliefs and attitudes. When individuals perceive their skills, knowledge and information as relevant to the overall organizational objectives, then they are more willing to share their knowledge.
The individual’s need for affiliation implies that they tend to share information if they believe that by doing that they can improve their relationships with others. Expected relationships and social interaction ties enhance the attitude of individuals to share knowledge. As such, individual sharing behavior is influenced by their attitude towards their colleagues, management, and organization (Hwang & Kim, 2007).
Interpersonal and team characteristics
Studies show that increased level of team cohesiveness, as defined by team characteristics and processes, leads to high level of knowledge sharing willingness. The elements of shared language, shared vision and shared norms have a significant effect on task relationships.
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Studies show that individuals of similar characteristics that may make them a minority such as low education level or gender tend to share less information with their colleagues. Norms such as the use of social networks also influence task relationship practices. For instance, the involvement of individuals in online communities’ discussions may build ties and personal relationships that cultivate the spirit of sharing information.
Additionally, the need for individuals to enhance their social ties through continued participation also influences them to continue sharing knowledge. This supports studies that show the strong correlation between high emotional closeness and social cohesion to ease of knowledge sharing (Schepers & van den Berg, 2007).
Variables such as altruism, which refers to the willingness of an individual to assist a colleague, or reputation, are highly influenced by the environment provided by the organization. If the organization creates a work environment that enhances interaction among employees such as the development of communication channels across departments, then such settings enhance knowledge sharing within organizations.
In addition, rewards and incentives enhance individual attitude towards sharing knowledge across cultures. Through organizational incentives such recognition, which enhance the reputation of individuals, and rewards such as promotion and bonus, organizations are able to develop a supportive atmosphere that facilitates task and employee relationships (Yang & Chen, 2007).
The knowledge management variables discussed above fall into four inter-related categories. The first section, individual learning, involves the development of knowledge on an individual level through experience.
The next section refers to socialization, which enhances the process of interactions and inter-change of ideas between individuals. The third section refers to externalization and combination, which allows the transformation of information from tacit to explicit, which is easy to transfer. The final section is the internalization and storage category, which is an attribute of organizational memory.
Organizational memory refers to the process by which past information is made relevant in a current situation, thereby, influencing the effectiveness of an individual in the organization setting (Wang & Noe, 2010). The diagram below shows the relationship impact between the variables of knowledge management systems with task relationship, based on their connection to the four categories mentioned above.
Figure 1: model of task relationship with other KMS variables
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