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4. The culture of the work environment – organizational culture determines values, beliefs, and work systems that could encourage knowledge sharing ( Janz – Prasarnphanich, 2003) In the past knowledge sharing has been materialized in written form through IT systems or via face-to-face communications. In future the next generation of managers have to be able to identify appropriate technologies and techniques for sharing knowledge that will resonate with generation X and Y employees. These technologies and techniques are likely to involve existing and new physical or electronic spaces (Huysman – Wit, 2004).

Gupta and Govindarajan (2000) argue that there are five factors that influence the extent

to which knowledge sharing takes place:

1. perceived value of the source’s knowledge,

2. willingness of the source to share knowledge,

3. existence and richness of transmission channels,

4. willingness of receiver to acquire knowledge from the source,

5. absorptive capacity of the receiver.

In our research we combined the second and third factors and examine the existence and richness of transmission channels (social media) and at the same time the willingness to share knowledge.



Knowledge sharing behaviour

The stimulating of knowledge sharing among individuals requires us to understand how to understand and develop underlying motivation in individual to share knowledge. Since an individual cannot possess all knowledge and knowledge cannot be hoarded like gold, people should recognize that the old paradigm ‘knowledge is power’ is less and less relevant. One of the ways of motivating individuals to share knowledge is to demonstrate how knowledge sharing can provide support them in completing their jobs more effectively and in helping them in their personal development and achieving their personal goals (Obermayer-Kovács – Csepregi, 2007).

Knowledge sharing behaviour is “by which an individual voluntarily provides other members of the organization with access to his or her knowledge and experiences” (Cyr – Choo, 2010, pp. 825).

Davenport and Prusak (1998) categorized the potential motivation behind knowledge

sharing behaviour as either pure altruism, reciprocity, or reputation:

• Altruism: refers to behaviour that costs an individual and benefit the other person.

People donate something to other people without thinking of any returns when showing altruistic behaviour (Chattopadhyay, 1999).

• Reciprocity: refers to either a positive or negative response for the actions which one should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself. In general, people suffer from limited time, energy, and other resources and not willing to share their knowledge unless they can get reward from them.

• Reputation: refers to a degree of recognition and increased by information sharing among other users. People who share more knowledge receive a higher reputation.

Social media technologies

Social media may be defined in a variety of ways such as “collaborative online applications and technologies which enable and encourage participation, conversation, openness, creation and socialization amongst a community of users” (Bowley, 2009), “web-based tools and practices enabling participation and collaboration based on individuals’ activities (Storey et al., 2010).

Surowiecki (2005) suggested that using social media may be considered to be making use of the “wisdom of the crowd”. Group of people are better at problem solving and decisionmaking than the individuals alone. Thus the availability of these tools that provide new ways


VOLUME 4 • ISSUE 1 (MARCH 2015) of inspiring and exploiting knowledge sharing are forcing organizations to expand their knowledge sharing technologies and practices (Mentzas et al., 2007).

Furthermore, it is important to note that these technologies – blogs, video sharing, presentation sharing, social networking service, instant messaging service and groupware – foster a more socially connected platform (Anderson, 2007).

Vuori (2011) characterises social media by considering the extent to which they support communication, collaboration, connecting, completing and combining (5C) ( Jalonen, 2014):

1. Communication: social media provides new tools to share, store and publish contents,

discuss and express opinions and influence:

– blogs (e.g. Blogger) and microblogs (e.g. Twitter), – video sharing (e.g. YouTube), – presentation sharing (e.g. SlideShare), – instant messaging service (e.g. Skype).

2. Collaboration: social media enables collective content creation and edition without

location and time constraints:

– wikis (e.g. Wikipedia) – groupware/shared workspaces (e.g. GoogleDocs).

3. Connecting: social media offers new ways of networking with other people, socialising

oneself into the community:

– social networking services (e.g. Facebook, LinkedIn).

4. Completing: social media tools are used to complete content by describing, adding or

filtering information, tagging contents, and showing a connection between contents:

– visual bookmarking tool (e.g. Pinterest), – news aggregator (e.g. Digg).

5. Combining: social media tools are developed for mixing and matching contents.

Combination of pre-existing web services that allow a certain user within a platform to use another application, in a specific window, without the need to get out of the initial website (Bonson – Flores, 2011).

– mash-ups (e.g. Google Maps).

Postman (2009) identified six major characteristics that provide value to social media:

• Authenticity: for example, the possibility of enabling the real voices of real people to come to the fore.

• Transparency: for example, the ability for shareholders to see the financial performance;

through blogs, communities and others information can also be made visible to the public.



• Immediacy: for example the ability of companies, members of the public to communicate, and to engage in online conversations in real-time.

• Participation: for example, the possibility for anyone to participate in corporate conversation, on the company’s blog, independent forums, personal blogs, etc. online.

• Connectedness: for example, ability to connect and share in thousand of places and people without physical or temporal constraints.

• Accountability: for example, the ability to identify users (they generally leave a trail of IP addresses and other clues).

In other research (Figure 2) user-friendliness, interactiveness, openness and uncontrollability, velocity, and real-timeness have been mentioned to be the main characteristics of social media (Kaplan – Haenlain, 2010; Denyer et al., 2011; Kietzmann et al., 2011; Fournier – Avery, 2011).

–  –  –

The term “generation” signifies the group of individuals, most of whom are within a similar age group, born in the same time of history and culture, having similar ideas, problems and attitudes (Weingarten, 2009). A person’s age may not always be indicative of their generational characteristics, but as a common group, they are likely to have similarities. Due to the different ideologies, a generation at a certain period tends to be exposed to approximately similar generic life experiences depending on cultural background.

Society is changing constantly which is likely to affect the values and experiences of different generations. Researchers have identified different generations including: Veterans, Baby Boomers, Generation X, Generation Y and Generation Z (Reeves – Oh 2007; Bohl 2009;

Weingarten, 2009; Grail Research, 2011):

• Veterans (born between 1922 and 1945) respect for authority, loyalty, hard work and sacrifice for the common good. Their motto is “live to work versus work to live”.

• Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) grew up with sense that security was taken care of – this left room for exploration and protest. They place high value on youth, personal gratification, health and material wealth. They are generally optimistic, value hope and peace, and believe their generation changed the world.

• Generation X (born between 1965 and 1970) desires balance in their lives, diversity viewed as norm, motivated by money, self-reliant, value free time and having fun. Their motto is “work to live, not live to work”. They assume gender equality in the workplace.

This is the first generation that embraces the personal computer and Internet.

• Generation Y (born between 1981 and 1995) is the most globally oriented generation.

They combine work ethic of Baby Boomers with the can-do attitude of Veterans and the technological savvy of Generation X. They are interested in health, exercise and body adornment (Weingarten, 2009).

• Generation Z (born from 1995 to present) is having grown up in a digital world where technology was ever present. They are more socially responsible, due to greater access to a large online information pool and always communicate through various social networking channels (Grail Research, 2011).

Not every person in a generation will share all of the various characteristics shown in Table 1 with others in the same generation. However, these examples are indicative of general patterns in the relationships between and among family members, friends and people in the workplace (Hammill, 2005).



Table 1. Personal and lifestyle characteristics by generation Source: Hammill, G. 2005. p. 1.

A variety of researchers have identified a serious new set of workplace issues related to interactions between distinct generations — the Veterans, the Baby Boomers, Gen X and Gen Y — working together and often coming into conflict as their paths cross. Individuals with different values, ideas, ways of getting things done and ways of communicating in the workplace have always existed.

–  –  –

At work, generational differences can affect recruiting, building teams, dealing with change, motivating, managing or increasing productivity. Generational differences (Table 2) with respect to how people communicate, might lead to misunderstandings, high employee turnover, difficulty in attracting employees, etc. (Hammill, 2005).

It seems clear that there are more pronounced differences between the generations today than ever before. Being aware of these differences can help individuals design their communications for maximum effect, regardless of the task, or the relationship — family, friends, workplace peers. The majority of people think the correct way, and the only way, is their way of communicating and acting, but in business or personal life, this is by no means always true.

To work effectively and efficiently, to increase productivity and quality, one needs to understand generational characteristics and learn how to use them effectively in dealing with each individual (Hammill, 2005).

As Veterans are in process of retiring and generation Z are not in the labour market yet, participants of our survey belong to Baby Boomers, Generation X and Generation Y.

Research framework

The methodology undertaken in this study was an exploratory research study examining the nature of knowledge sharing activities among Hungarian organizations. The authors at the University of Pannonia, Veszprém were involved in the development and implementation of the “Organizational knowledge sharing in Hungary 2013/2014” questionnaire survey (KPMG Academy 2014), which was executed with the collaboration of the KPMG Academy, Budapest. The main objective of our research is to determine the ways in which social media technologies are being used as knowledge sharing tools.

Data collection

Based on our literature review and our previous study (KPMG-BME Academy, 2006), a large-scale online survey - “Organizational knowledge sharing in Hungary 2013/2014” - was developed (KPMG Academy, 2014), which was carried out in LimeSurvey, a web application.

In the short introduction to the survey, it was stressed that the answers would be anonymous, and only used for this study. Respondents could leave their e-mail address in order to be informed about the results later. More than 1500 individuals received an e-mail requesting 15 minutes of their time to fill in a questionnaire about internal and external knowledge sharing tools and practices. The message contained a link to the LimeSurvey.



The survey instrument consisting of four demographic questions and forty-three questions related to knowledge management, divided into three main areas: knowledge management (strategy, initiatives), knowledge sharing (technologies, practices) and leadership practice (this paper does not discuss this topic).

The potential respondents were from KPMG Academy partnership database, networks of University of Pannonia and the researchers’ social relations. The participation in this study was voluntary. In the course of the survey, answers from 299 organizations were included in the database, The completed questionnaires were exported from LimeSurvey to Excel files and analysed using SPSS.


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