An integrative management model of knowledge sharing : case studies of knowledge-based SMEs in Hong Kong

知識共用整合管理模型 : 香港知識型中小企業個案研究

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis

View graph of relations


  • Kuok Kei LAW

Related Research Unit(s)


Awarding Institution
Award date15 Jul 2011


This dissertation provides an answer to the long-lasting question of "how to enhance knowledge sharing within organizations". As knowledge has become the major, if not only, production factor in the modern knowledge economy, the sharing and application of it throughout the organization is critical to the development of competitive advantage. However, the sharing of knowledge among organizational members is often 'sticky'. This stickiness is mainly caused by people's reluctance to disclose and share what they know. The notion of knowledge sharing dilemma is an important theoretical underpinning to understand people's reluctance. In such a dilemma situation, on the one hand, people are concerned with the potential costs and losses of knowledge sharing, but on the other hand, people need to share their knowledge in order to reveal their intellectual values and obtain rewards. Therefore, from the management's point of view, the critical issue to foster knowledge sharing is to lead the workers out of the knowledge sharing dilemma. Managerial interventions/governance are needed to achieve such directing effort. However, the extant literature has largely undermined this management perspective. Past studies have mostly focused on identifying the antecedents to knowledge sharing, that is, concentrating on the examination of the 'what' aspect. There is no concrete theoretical model explaining 'how' to foster knowledge sharing from the managerial perspective. Another major problem in the current literature is that researchers tend to emphasize the role of motivation in enhancing knowledge sharing behaviors but downplay the role of managerial controls, assuming that control mechanisms are contradictory to the discretional nature of knowledge sharing. However, extensive reviews of the underlying nature of the motivation and control mechanisms as well as the empirical evidences gathered from case studies here suggested that both types of mechanisms are actually complimenting the effects of one another. The simultaneous implementation of these two mechanisms indeed creates a synergy for fostering knowledge sharing behaviors of workers. The empirical context of the study involves six knowledge-intensive SMEs in Hong Kong. The six SMEs compose the case study observations that were based upon to develop an integrative management model for fostering knowledge sharing. The types of managerial practices employed in the SMEs, the rationales behind those managerial practices, as well as their effectiveness are analyzed. Overall, evidences from the case studies suggest that three types of managerial interventions are needed to foster knowledge sharing - initiating interventions, reinforcing interventions, aligning interventions. The integrative management model identifies the roles of the three types of managerial interventions in fostering knowledge sharing. It describes how these managerial interventions create extrinsic drives to the workers to engage in knowledge sharing and how the knowledge sharing behavior initially shaped by extrinsic drives will gradually be internalized as an intrinsic value of the workers. The integrative management model advances the extant literature in three ways. First, it offers concrete theoretical and practical guidance to both researchers and managers on how to embed knowledge sharing behaviors within KIFs. Second, it bridges the different theoretical viewpoints toward the managing of knowledge and knowledge sharing, namely the motivation perspective and control perspective. Third, it describes the processes how the fostering effect is achieved from the intended managerial efforts. Moreover, the model offers implications for various research opportunities. In conclusion, this dissertation builds a concrete theoretical foundation for the investigation of enhancing knowledge sharing and makes a theoretical contribution to the extant literature.

    Research areas

  • Knowledge management, China, Hong Kong, Management, Small business