Self-evaluation of knowledge sharing through the lens of social comparison theory

Publication Date17 Nov 2019
AuthorMisook Heo,Natalie Toomey,Jung Sook Song
SubjectInformation & knowledge management,Knowledge management,Knowledge management systems
Self-evaluation of knowledge
sharing through the lens of social
comparison theory
Misook Heo and Natalie Toomey
Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, and
Jung Sook Song
Pusan National University, Kumjeong-ku, Republic of Korea
Purpose The purpose of this study is to investigate how different types of contribution awareness
informationinuence knowledge sharing motivation and contributionpersistence.
Design/methodology/approach The independent variable of this experimental study was
contribution awareness information with four levels: self-contribution, absolute social-comparison, relative
social-comparison and control. The dependent variables were self-rated knowledge sharing motivation
measured on a six-point Likert scale andcontribution persistence measured by number of contributions. A
total of 182 knowledge workers voluntarily completed online participation. Participants were randomly
assignedto one of the four intervention groups.
Findings The study found that the self-contribution group outperformed the other groups in both
knowledge sharing motivation and contribution persistence; this observation was signicant compared
with the absolute social-comparison and control groups. The impact of self-contribution frequency
information was str onger for contributi on persistence than f or self-evaluated k nowledge sharing
motivation, highlighting the gap between perception and behavior. It is also noteworthy that comparative
information negatively inuenced knowledge sharing motivation and contribution persistence, implying
that social comparis on played a role in primin g individuals to focus on d issimilarities bet ween the
comparison target and themselves.
Originality/value This study provides behavior-based evidence supporting social comparison theory
and the selective accessibility model in the eld of knowledgesharing outside of an organizational context.
This study also offers thepractical advice that participantsknowledge sharingmotivation and contribution
persistence, especially newly joining members, can be increased by the inclusion of self-contribution
informationand conversely decreased by comparativeinformation.
Keywords Knowledge sharing, Motivation, Persistence, Social comparison, Awareness
Paper type Research paper
The rise of networked computing, popularity of self-media production and demand for
active modes of knowledge sharing have afforded a participatory culture (Jenkins, 2014;
Liew and Cheetham, 2016), where individuals, knowledge workers, organizations and
communities alike increasingly engage in the co-creation of knowledge as producers of
information (Carletti, 2016;Murray and Greenes, 2007;van der Hoeven, 2019). In this
contemporary participatory culture, individuals may independently contribute to a
task creating a synergic collection of focused knowledge (i.e. collective intelligence)
(Kelty, 2017;Kittur, 2010;Nguyen et al.,2019).This differs from the traditional concept
of participatory culture, which emphasizes a sense of group belonging to inspire
Received19 April 2019
Revised23 August 2019
Accepted28 September 2019
VINEJournal of Information and
KnowledgeManagement Systems
Vol.50 No. 2, 2020
pp. 291-304
© Emerald Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/VJIKMS-04-2019-0056
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