Millennials and political savvy – the mediating role of political skill linking core self-evaluation, emotional intelligence and knowledge sharing behaviour

Publication Date06 March 2019
AuthorPushpendra Priyadarshi,Rajesh Premchandran
SubjectInformation & knowledge management,Knowledge management,Knowledge management systems
Millennials and political
savvy the mediating role of
political skill linking core self-
evaluation, emotional intelligence
and knowledge sharing behaviour
Pushpendra Priyadarshi and Rajesh Premchandran
Department of Human Resource Management,
Indian Institute of Management Lucknow, Lucknow, India
Purpose Navigating the labyrinthineconnections between people, process, technologyand infrastructure
is a key skill for employees in agile organisations.Political skill is imperative amongst millennials who in a
continuously changing environment need to stretch their minds to accumulate and disseminate new
knowledge and develop core competencies while responding to new business triggers. The purpose of this
paper is to investigate a mediation model in which the effect of emotional intelligence (EI) and core self-
evaluation(CSE) on knowledge-sharing intention is mediatedby levels of political skill amongst millennials.
Design/methodology/approach Hypotheses, on mediation, were tested with data collected from
prospective employees graduating from a premier management institute in Northern India. Structural
equationmodelling was used to test hypotheses with bootstrapping to testmediation effects.
Findings The ndings demonstrate that the relationship between EI, CSE and knowledge-sharing
intention is mediated by political skill. Theoretical and practical implications and directions for future
researchare followed.
Originality/value This study contributesto the literature on knowledge sharing by providinga basis for
understandingthe mediating mechanism through which EI and CSE inuenceknowledge sharing. This is the
rst attempt examining the role of political skillas a mediator in the study of knowledge sharing, a critical
lever for agile organisations to ourish. By investigating the underlying mechanisms through which
individual differences impact knowledge-sharing behaviour, this study signicantly supplements current
researchon knowledge management.
Keywords Knowledge sharing, Emotional intelligence, Political skill, Millennials,
Core self-evaluation
Paper type Research paper
1. Introduction
Knowledge sharing is being recognised for its value in the organisational learning,
knowledge creation and innovation (Casimir et al.,2012). Knowledge-sharing behaviour
among employees has been associated with improved productivity (Dong et al.,2017;
Naoman and Fouad, 2014;Tabish and Syed, 2015), increased competitive advantage (Reid,
2003), innovation (Hu and Randel, 2014), ideation (Lin, 2007) and heightened personal
learning (Hsu, 2008;Wang-Cowham,2011). While the desirability of knowledge sharing as a
behavioural outcome is well established, it is also well known that employees withhold
knowledge for a variety of reasons including organisational structure, culture, insecurity
and personality attributes (Riege, 2005).As knowledge sharing is an information exchange
and political
Received16 June 2018
Revised15 December 2018
Accepted20 December 2018
VINEJournal of Information and
KnowledgeManagement Systems
Vol.49 No. 1, 2019
pp. 95-114
© Emerald Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/VJIKMS-06-2018-0046
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
process between two or more individuals that is epitomised by the creation of new
knowledge (Van den Hoof and de Ridder, 2004), individual dispositions such as motivation
(Jarvenpaa and Staples, 2001;Lin, 2007) or personality traits (Gupta, 2008;Matzler et al.,
2008) play a key role in the quality, process and the quantity of knowledge exchanged.
Research has demonstrated thatindividuals indicated that individuals with higher levels of
agreeableness, openness to experience and conscientiousness (Cabrera et al.,2006;Matzler
et al., 2008) are more likely to share knowledge. However, there is a paucity of research
looking beyond the Big 5in terms of inuence on knowledge-sharing behaviour (Wang
and Noe, 2010).
This study looks at a broad personality concept, core self-evaluations (CSEs), which
consists of global self-esteem, generalised self-efcacy, locus of control and emotional
stability (Judge et al.,2000), to expand our understanding of knowledge sharing. Further, the
role of emotional intelligence (EI) on knowledge-sharing behaviour is also explored with a
view to lend greater empiricalsupport to existing research (Ansari and Malik, 2017;Goh and
Lim, 2014) that connectsthis important individual trait with knowledgesharing.
Despite existing research on the antecedents of knowledge sharing, the role of an
important and establishedmeasure of social skill at the work place, i.e. political skill(Ferris
et al.,2012) has not been studied to explain the pathways through which, antecedents
inuence knowledge-sharing behaviour. This is especially relevant as politically skilled
individuals possess the abilityto astutely note, comprehend and adjust their own behaviour
to varying situations (Ferris et al., 2005b). This prociency in applying situationally
appropriate behaviour could be a key motivational factor with respect to knowledge
Howe and Strauss (2000) have argued that each generation has a dened set of
personality attributes.Millennials are no exceptions as they have been found to hold distinct
personalities (Loughlin and Barling, 2001;Twenge et al.,2010), work values (Lyons and
Kuron, 2014), work attitudes (Kowskeet al.,2010)and have different expectations relating to
work preferences (Ng et al.,2010;Twenge et al.,2010) from earlier generations. Millennials
have been shown to demonstrate selshness (Deal et al.,2010), lower organisational
commitment (Zemke and Connellan, 2000) and a sense of entitlement (Alsop, 2008),
primarily as they grow up with abundance of resources,less available to the generation that
preceded them. This is also the generation that have seen the proliferation of knowledge
dissemination through theinternet, where instant access to knowledge is a norm and using
the internet and technology is a way of life (Cennamoand Gardener, 2008). Hence, looking at
the knowledge-sharingbehaviour within this group will be immensely benecial.
Several studies rely on social capital and network theories to explain how knowledge
sharing works, based on Nahapiet and Ghoshals (1998) social capital framework (i.e.
structural, relational, cognitive dimensions). This study uses social cognitive theory (SCT)
and the theory of planned behaviour (TPB) to explain how individual differences and
dispositions explain knowledge-sharing behaviour by looking at millennials in a university
setting, where knowledge sharing and access is critical to the ecosystem to ourish. This
paper examines how knowledge sharing is inuenced by political skill as a mediator, with
EI and CSEs as antecedents.
1.1 The context
The importance of millennials (Ng et al., 2010;Smola and Sutton, 2002) or generation Y
(Leung, 2013) in India could be highlighted from the fact that India would become the
youngest country in the worldby 2020 with the median age of 29 years. With a populationof
over 400 million, millennials constitute 34 per cent of the population and 46 per cent of the

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