Do social networking applications support the antecedents of knowledge sharing practices?

Pages494-509
DOIhttps://doi.org/10.1108/VJIKMS-12-2018-0133
Publication Date11 November 2019
AuthorMuhammad Naeem,Mohammad Javid Khan
SubjectInformation & knowledge management,Knowledge management,Knowledge management systems
Do social networking applications
support the antecedents of
knowledge sharing practices?
Muhammad Naeem
University of Worcester, Worcester Business School, Worcester, UK, and
Mohammad Javid Khan
Business School, Birmingham City University, Birmingham, UK
Abstract
Purpose Many organizationsare struggling to achieve competitiveness due to lackof knowledge sharing
(KS) practices. The sustainabilityof the service sector is linked to KS practices and creativity. Therefore,to
survive in a dynamicbusiness environment, universities haveto formulate and implement such practices and
innovative learning systems. This paper aims to highlight how social media networking apps can be used
efciently and effectively to support the antecedents of KS among the employees in public and private
universities.
Design/methodology/approach This study is based on a positivistic approach and a quantitative
research design.A survey was carried out with employees at public and private universities.The respondents
were chosen based on simple random sampling with the purpose of increasing the validity and
generalizabilityof the results in the context of universitysettings and for other sectors as well.
Findings Certain individual and organizational factors have been found,which have been supported by
social networking tools. These factors canenhance KS practices, such as informal relationships and social
networking, effective communication and collaboration, mutual trust and the intention to share knowledge,
the KS culture and new ideas. The results of this study reveal that social networking applications such as
WhatsApp, Viber, Skype, Facebook, Research-gate, YouTube and personal blogs are more productive in
supportingthe antecedents of KS stated above in university settings.
Research limitations/implications Social networking applications have received attention because
executives and researchersare increasingly focusing on nding new ways to use social networking tools for
business purposes. The effective and efcient use of social networking tools helps organizations to foster
knowledge amongstemployees to address various criticalissues, such as knowledge hoarding, lower levelsof
skills and knowledge, lower levels of communication and employee involvement, a lack of the intention to
share knowledgeand resistance toward the adoption of new technology.
Originality/value There is rare literature available on how social networking tools can support the
antecedents of KS in university settings. Most of such literature has investigated the link between social
media and KS using a systematic literature and qualitative research approach. This research is based on
empirical studyand it is unique as it investigates the hitherto under-researchedissue of the adoption of social
networkingapplications to foster the antecedents of KS in universitysettings.
Keywords Knowledge sharing, Public and private sector universities,
Social networking (SN) applications, Quantitative approach, KS practices
Paper type Research paper
Introduction
Nowadays, researchers, marketing managers and business leaders are searching for
innovative ways to exploit social networking (SN) tools for business purposes (Kaplan and
Haenlein, 2010). The previous study has indicatedthat knowledge about services, products,
VJIKMS
49,4
494
Received31 December 2018
Revised4 June 2019
Accepted9 July 2019
VINEJournal of Information and
KnowledgeManagement Systems
Vol.49 No. 4, 2019
pp. 494-509
© Emerald Publishing Limited
2059-5891
DOI 10.1108/VJIKMS-12-2018-0133
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
www.emeraldinsight.com/2059-5891.htm
work tasks, expertise,skills and customers is an important intellectual resourcethat must be
shared among the employees in an organization (Grant, 1996). Evidence suggests that 86
per cent of managers think that SN tools will be considered important to businesses in the
next few years (Kiron et al., 2012), while four out of ve organizations are using various SN
applications at different stages of their product maturity (Overby, 2012). SN tools have
enhanced the production (i.e. 20-25 per cent) of McKinsey and Company (digital solutions
provider) workers (Bughin and Chui, 2010). With the advent and rise of social media, SN
applications such as Facebook,LinkedIn and Twitter offer new, unique ways to foster both
unstructured and structured knowledge sharing (KS) (Panahi et al.,2013). However, there
are many countries (i.e. 12 out of 65) where certain restrictions on the usage of WhatsApp,
Skype and Facetime have been imposed (House, 2015). Furthermore, Telegram, Facebook,
Messenger, Line, Viber,Google handouts and IMO are also frequently blocked in most of the
developing countries (House,2015). However, the extent of literature available in the context
of western countries where there are very limited restrictions on the use of SN tools
compared with Asiancountries.
There are number of challenges,which have been observed by dynamic organizations in
terms of using various SN tools to fosterKS behavior at workplaces, such as the low priority
given to adoption of SN applications, a lower level of interpersonal trust, a poor SN
environment, knowledge hoarding (Muqadas et al., 2017;Chang and Chuang, 2011). Other
factors are: the obstructive nature of organizational cultures, a perceived lack of leadership,
a lack of enthusiasm to use codied knowledge and managerial direction (Chen and Hung,
2010;Aslam et al., 2016;Linand Chen, 2008;Nguyen et al., 2019). Moreover, features of other
constraints includea lack of employee inspiration and inadequaterewards, an unwillingness
to share knowledge, a lack of enthusiasm to exploit new SN tools, a lack of appropriate
knowledge, low levels of participation and user adoption of SN tools (Alajmi, 2012;Aslam
et al.,2016). Further elements are: fears associated with losing knowledge-power, the costs
associated with codifyingknowledge and a perceived lack of personal benets (Aslam et al.,
2018a,2018b;Pee and Lee, 2015;Muqadas et al.,2017).On the other hand, there are various
studies, which have highlighted the importance of SN tools in enhancing the socialization
process and for overcoming challenges to foster KS practices (Ahmed et al.,2018;Aslam
et al., 2018a,2018b;Pee and Lee, 2015). However, previous research studies have been
performed by using a systematic literature review approach and have ignored the
generalizability of results by conducting research in a real context of organizations using a
quantitative approach.
Al-Auand Fulton (2014) have stated that approximately one-third of respondents in
their study did not use SN applications in an academic institution. Muqadas et al. (2017)
conducted a study in public sector universities and found knowledge hoarding behavior
ourished because of the employeesdesireto obtain power, authority, inuence, favoritism
and more rewards. This researchaims to highlight how SN apps can be used efciently and
effectively to support the antecedents of KS among employees at public and private
universities. Most previousstudies have been conducted with a view to examining the links
between SN applications and KS parties in the context of a systematic literature review
(Ahmed et al.,2018;Panahi et al., 2013;Ghazali et al.,2016), using a qualitative approach
(Jarrahi and Sawyer, 2013;Kotlarsky and Oshri, 2005). However, there is scant literature
available in which statistical techniques have been used to generalize results to a larger
population in the context of SN tools and their role in supporting the antecedents of KS
practices. Furthermore, it is apparent that limited research has been performed on
investigating the role of SN applications in supporting the antecedents of KS in university
settings. Most studies have been conducted in a western context where there are fewer
Social
networking
applications
495

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