This study challenges existing theories of knowledge sharing that view knowledge as a commodity or possession that can be passed around from one person or place to another and assumes that knowledge sharing is a one-way process. This study develops the concept of ‘knowledge interactions’ to reflect the dynamic nature of knowledge with an emphasis on collective action. Knowledge interactions are defined as collective interactions based on spontaneity, intuition and showing each other how things are done in practice. The aim of this research is to explore and explain how people interact and share knowledge in Bulgarian firms in an attempt to help them become more competitive and innovative. A critical realism paradigm and a mixed methods approach are adopted to guide this study. To start with, a thorough literature review is conducted, followed by semistructured interviews with key executives and employees in Bulgarian firms. This enables the factors influencing knowledge sharing and knowledge interactions to be identified. These are: organisational culture/climate, transactive memory systems, informal networks, power relations, trust in peers and trust in management. Subsequently, a new theoretical model is developed, the Organisational Knowledge Sharing and Interactions Model, informed by activity theory and critical realism to help explain how the identified factors are related and how they affect knowledge sharing and knowledge interactions. The model is then tested using Partial Least Squares analysis. The key finding of this study is the distinction that can be made between knowledge sharing and knowledge interaction processes based on the different effects the previously identified factors have on these two processes. While transactive memory systems are found to be a key driver for both knowledge sharing and knowledge interactions, knowledge sharing is strongly affected by power relations, but knowledge interactions are significantly influenced by informal networks. The main contribution of this study is theoretical through the development of a new concept and a new theoretical model. This model has been tested empirically with Bulgarian firms. The theoretical implications based on this study and the findings highlight the importance of knowledge interaction processes, and shed light on the significant positive effect of informal networks on knowledge interactions and emphasise the value of developing transactive memory systems. The practical implications of this research draw managers’ attention to the heterogeneity of knowledge processes within organisations and the need to harness these processes. It further invites them to acknowledge the unfavourable effects of power relations in order to mitigate them and to recognise the benefits of informal networks and transactive memory systems in order to nurture them.
|Award date||1 Apr 2015|
|Publication status||Unpublished - 2015|