How Gamification Increases Knowledge Contribution in Organizations: Conceptualizing Meaningful Engagement and Empirical Tests

Project: Research

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In an effort to facilitate employees’ knowledge contribution in the workplace, many organizations have introduced gamification—the use of game elements in nonentertainment contexts—into their knowledge management systems (KMSs). Gamified KMSs reward employees with points when, for example, they create new documents, generate ideas, respond to discussions, answer colleagues’ questions, or comment on content. Employees also receive badges and trophies when they reach specific milestones, participate in challenges, set new goals, or compete with others to climb to higher levels of contribution and receive more rewards. These game elements are expected to increase employees’ knowledge contribution because they facilitate hedonic user experiences (e.g., feelings of pleasure, enjoyment, fun, playfulness, and sensuality).However, evidence has shown that providing hedonic user experiences is not effective at steering individuals toward targeted behaviors because the novelty of game elements diminishes over time (Mekler and Hornbak 2016). As a result, researchers have suggested that gamified systems should enable the discovery of meaningful connections between individuals’ interests and the use of the system (Chen et al. 2015; Nicholson 2015). Despite an increase in scholarly attention to the creation of meaningful engagement with gamified systems (Liu et al. 2017; Suh et al. 2017; Suh and Wagner 2017), the questions of what meaningful engagement is, how it arises, and what role it plays in predicting employees’ knowledge contribution have not been fully answered. To fill these gaps, this project asks the following questions: (1) What is the precise nature of meaningful engagement with a gamified KMS? (2) How does meaningful engagement play a role in enhancing employees’ knowledge contribution?To answer these questions, we will develop a scale for measuring a multidiensional construct of meaningful engagement, and we will evaluate its validity and reliability. We will also create and test a nomological network to verify the construct’s utility in predicting employees’ knowledge contribution in terms of the quantity and quality of their knowledge contribution within gamified KMSs. By using objective data for assessing employees’ knowledge contribution (e.g., earned points, frequency, and peer ratings), this study will overcome the limitations of self-administered responses. The results of this research project will be a useful tool that can be used to measure the extent of users’ meaningful engagement with a gamified KMS. We believe that the conceptualization and measurement of meaningful engagement hold significant potential for informing future gamification research.This project combines qualitative and quantitative approaches. First, we will conduct indepth interviews with users of gamified KMSs to gain insights, which we will use to develop our scale to measure meaningful engagement. We will then conduct a series of surveys with KMS users to collect empirical data so we can test our model. To facilitate the interviews and surveys required for this project, we have secured the collaboration of four global companies (Samsung Electronics, PricewaterhouseCoopers, General Electric, and AmorePacific Corporation) that have introduced gamification into their KMSs to increase employees’ knowledge contribution.The study will contribute to the gamification literature by drawing scholarly attention to meaningful engagement as a parsimonious yet powerful construct that complements the notions of hedonic and instrumental engagement with KMSs. This study will inform future design strategies for successful implementation of gamification that facilitates employees’ knowledge contribution in the workplace.


Project number9042723
Effective start/end date1/01/19 → …