Interpersonal trust and employee knowledge sharing behavior. Creative performance as the outcome

Publication Date14 October 2019
AuthorNeethu Mohammed,T.J. Kamalanabhan
SubjectInformation & knowledge management,Knowledge management,Knowledge management systems
Interpersonal trust and employee
knowledge sharing behavior
Creative performance as the outcome
Neethu Mohammed and T.J. Kamalanabhan
Departmentof Management Studies, Indian Institute of TechnologyMadras,
Chennai, India
Purpose The main purpose of this paper is to investigate the effect of benevolence-based,
competence-based and integrity-based trust in peers on the employeesvoluntary knowledge
contribution and knowledge seeking with them. In addition, this study aims to explore how engaging in
knowledge-contribution and knowledge-seeking behavior with peers inuences an individualscreative
performance at work.
Design/methodology/approach A questionnaire-basedsurvey was used and data were collectedfrom
401 professionals working in informationtechnology companies. Structural equation modeling was used to
test the hypotheses.
Findings Benevolence-based trust and competence-based trust positively inuence the extent to which
individuals voluntarily engage in knowledge contribution and knowledge seeking with peers. Contrary to
expectations, integrity-based trust has a negative effect on knowledge-seeking behavior at workplace. The
results also provideevidence for a signicant positive relationship between bothtypes of knowledge sharing
behaviorand employeescreative performance.
Originality/value The present study differs fromexisting studies by offering a theoretical model that
integrates different types of knowledge sharing, its antecedents and the differential impact on employee
creativity. The model incorporates the knowledge-seeking dimension of individual knowledge sharing
behavior, which has received relatively less attention in extant literature, and provides a conceptual
comparison of different behavioral contexts in a single study. While prior studies have predominantly
explored the antecedentsof knowledge sharing, this study is among the few that have simultaneouslylooked
into the outcomesof knowledge sharing at individual level.
Keywords Benevolence-based trust, Competence-based trust, Creative performance,
Integrity-based trust, Knowledge contribution, Knowledge seeking
Paper type Research paper
1. Introduction
Knowledge sharing refers to the process wherein employees contribute and seek
knowledge, experiences and skills among their peers with an intention to solve task-
related problems at their workplace (Bao et al.,2016). It is one of the key mechanisms by
which knowledge gets transferred within organizations and the sustainability of
organizations depends on how effectively knowledge sharing takes place among its
employees (Cabrera and Cabrera, 2005). The decision to engage in knowledge sharing
remains with the individual and cannot be enforced through management control. As
employees are the key agents of knowledge sharing, it is important to understand the
underlying psychological mechanisms that drive them to engage in this behavior. Trust
in coworkers is a critical factor that facilitates voluntary cooperation by building a
collective orientation among employees and creating a positive expectation of others
(Rosendaal and Bijlsma-Frankema, 2015).
Received28 April 2019
Revised22 July 2019
Accepted19 August 2019
VINEJournal of Information and
KnowledgeManagement Systems
Vol.50 No. 1, 2020
pp. 94-116
© Emerald Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/VJIKMS-04-2019-0057
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
Multiple studies have enhanced our understanding regarding the role of trust in
facilitating knowledge sharing at workplace, with predominant focus on knowledge
contribution by employees (Chowdhury, 2005;Pinjani and Palvia, 2013;Rutten et al.,2016;
Swift and Hwang, 2013). Some researchers posit that knowledge sharing activity of an
individual encompasses two clearly distinct and interrelated behavioral tendencies
knowledge contribution and knowledge seeking (He and Wei, 2009;Le and Lei, 2018;van
den Hooff and de Ridder, 2004). Knowledge contribution can be dened as the voluntary
communication of ones individuallyheld knowledge to others, whereas knowledge seeking
is the proactive collectionof knowledge from others with an intention to learnfrom them (Le
and Lei, 2018;van den Hooff and de Ridder, 2004).These two behaviors have unique driving
factors and the inclusion of both dimensions will provide a holistic understanding of
individual-level knowledge sharing behavior. The lack of studies in literatureexploring the
relationships between trust in peers, knowledge contribution behavior and knowledge-
seeking behavior of individuals, specically in the Indian context has led us to address this
research gap.
Trust is a complex and multifaceted construct (Chowdhury, 2005;McAllister, 1995) that
operates at multiple levels of an organization, with each subdimension having a distinct
pattern of association with individual behavior. For the present study, we adopt Mayer
et al.s (1995) conceptualization of trust, an attitude-like construct determined by ones
evaluation of benevolence, competence and integrity of others. Accordingly, interpersonal
trust can be classied as three separate sub-constructs, namely, benevolence-based trust,
competence-based trust and integrity-based trust. In this study, we specically examine
how benevolence-based, competence-based and integrity-based trust in peers differentially
affect an employeesknowledge contribution and knowledge-seeking behavior with them.
Based on the knowledge complexity,we classify knowledge contribution and knowledge
seeking as explicit and tacit in nature.Tacit knowledge refers to personal assumptions and
expertise developed by individuals based on their experience (McInerney, 2002). Explicit
knowledge refers to well-documented and codied knowledge in the form of manuals,
methodologies, documents,reports and presentations (Alavi and Leidner, 2001;Nonaka and
Takeuchi, 1995).
It is also noticeable that compared to the large number of studies investigating
knowledge sharing antecedents, there are only a few studies discussing the outcomes of
knowledge sharing behavior. Drivenby this gap, we further intend to explore the inuence
of knowledge sharing on employees creative performance, from the perspectives of both
knowledge contribution and knowledge seeking, and thereby providing a conceptual
comparison of two independentbehavioral contexts.
2. Theoretical background and hypotheses
Knowledge functions as a vital strategic resource and organizational survival depends on
the quality of knowledge held by rms and the efciency with which it is managed (Zaim
et al.,2018). Despite the fact that technology is an important aspect of knowledge
management (KM), employeesactive participation in knowledge processes, such as
knowledge sharing, creation and implementation, forms the core of successful KM
initiatives. As a result, the culture of an organization that deals with the intangible and
human side of KM acts as one of the critical facilitators of knowledge processes (Al Sai,
2015;Prasetyo, 2017). A knowledge supportiveculture operates as an action-based platform
that promotes collaborative and interactive learning among organizational members,
resulting in enhanced individual capabilities to implement managerial and operational
processes (Marouf, 2016). Trust,an indispensable element of organizational culture, enables

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