The Role of Organizational Values in Knowledge Sharing Actions: A Case Study
This case study explored the role of contextual factors in knowledge sharing behaviors with a specific focus on organizational values among these contextual issues. The research examined a local office of a professional services firm offering environmental engineering services to the federal government. To understand how participants perceived contextual and organizational values to influence knowledge sharing, 10 interviews were conducted and supported with document review. An organizational learning lens was used to interpret the interview results. The organizational learning systems model (Schwandt & Marquart, 2000) was used to guide the study. Additionally, interpretations were provided relating to differences around organizational subcultures, interpretations related to knowledge types based on Habermas’ (1971) knowledge dimensions, and interpretations related to Quinn and Rohrbaugh’s (1981) competing values framework.
Participants perceived organizational values such as collaboration, goal congruence, diversity, equality, and excellence as influencing knowledge sharing behaviors. These values differed across organizational subcultures categorized as technical, executive, or administrative. Findings indicated that numerous contextual issues such as personal values, leadership, time and resource constraints, and trust also influenced knowledge sharing behaviors. Interview results also supported that both formal and informal knowledge sharing protocols were relied on, although different categories of participants relied to differing extents on the types of protocols.
When analyzed with respect to knowledge dimensions as categorized by Habermas, findings suggested that participants perceived knowledge sharing behaviors differently for technical knowledge and communicative knowledge. Emancipatory knowledge sharing episodes were not observed. Analysis also indicated that values often conflicted, and although no one particular organizational model was identified with the organization studied, values reflecting a stronger focus on the person rather than the organization and on flexibility rather than control seemed to dominate as influencers of sharing behaviors.
The study increases qualitative empirical data surrounding knowledge sharing and provides insights into the little-explored world of less traditional knowledge dimensions. Additionally, using an organizational learning lens, the study provides insight into the nexus between organizational values and knowledge sharing behaviors.
0635: Organization Theory
0703: Organizational behavior