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, manyorganizations have introduced gamification—the use of game elements in nonentertainmentcontexts—into their knowledge management systems (KMSs). GamifiedKMSs 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, participatein challenges, set new goals, or compete with others to climb to higher levels of contributionand receive more rewards. These game elements are expected to increase employees’knowledge contribution because they facilitate hedonic user experiences (e.g., feelings ofpleasure, enjoyment, fun, playfulness, and sensuality).However, evidence has shown that providing hedonic user experiences is not effective atsteering individuals toward targeted behaviors because the novelty of game elementsdiminishes over time (Mekler and Hornbak 2016). As a result, researchers have suggestedthat gamified systems should enable the discovery of meaningful connections betweenindividuals’ interests and the use of the system (Chen et al. 2015; Nicholson 2015). Despitean increase in scholarly attention to the creation of meaningful engagement with gamifiedsystems (Liu et al. 2017; Suh et al. 2017; Suh and Wagner 2017), the questions of whatmeaningful 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 thefollowing questions: (1) What is the precise nature of meaningful engagement with agamified 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 constructof meaningful engagement, and we will evaluate its validity and reliability. We will also createand 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 contributionwithin gamified KMSs. By using objective data for assessing employees’ knowledgecontribution (e.g., earned points, frequency, and peer ratings), this study will overcome thelimitations of self-administered responses. The results of this research project will be auseful tool that can be used to measure the extent of users’ meaningful engagement with agamified KMS. We believe that the conceptualization and measurement of meaningfulengagement hold significant potential for informing future gamification research.This project combines qualitative and quantitative approaches. First, we will conduct indepthinterviews with users of gamified KMSs to gain insights, which we will use to developour scale to measure meaningful engagement. We will then conduct a series of surveys withKMS users to collect empirical data so we can test our model. To facilitate the interviews andsurveys required for this project, we have secured the collaboration of four global companies(Samsung Electronics, PricewaterhouseCoopers, General Electric, and AmorePacificCorporation) that have introduced gamification into their KMSs to increase employees’knowledge contribution.The study will contribute to the gamification literature by drawing scholarly attention tomeaningful engagement as a parsimonious yet powerful construct that complements thenotions of hedonic and instrumental engagement with KMSs. This study will inform futuredesign strategies for successful implementation of gamification that facilitates employees’knowledge contribution in the workplace.


Project number9042723
Grant typeGRF
Effective start/end date1/01/1924/08/20