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The result we have obtained is likely a demonstration of the fact that individuals at lower levels of the organization (and likely members of Gen Y) are more likely to make use of external social networking for friendship and informal, personal communication rather than work related activities.

Practical implications

This research was designed to find out more about the relation between social media tools and knowledge sharing within organizations. We can state that all stages (Bellefroid,

2012) of knowledge sharing can be found in the Hungarian organizations, but the third stage (social networks) has not been widely achieved as most of the organizations do not allow their employees to utilize the benefits of the social media tools and do not support to develop social networks through these technologies.

Table 4 presents the possible social media tools that can be used by the communities with the aim to share knowledge with the wider audience and within the organization.



Table 4. Usage possibilities of external social media tools for knowledge sharing


VOLUME 4 • ISSUE 1 (MARCH 2015) For organizations that wish to enhance knowledge sharing it is becoming essential that they integrate social media tools into their daily business routines. Employees must be given easy access to such tools and be provide with appropriate training.

We would also observe that there are numerous opportunities to using social media tools

in a manner meaningful to organizations:

• communication between employees can be encouraged to support problem solving: if organization needs an expert for a specific task, a post can be placed on a blog and likely receive a response from another employee or search on LinkedIn to find the a person, who can help.

• convert personal knowledge to organisational knowledge: if the senior employees record videos about their work and share it with the new employees, the organization can use these videos instead of expensive training programs to explain the details.

• discuss professional problems: with a group of people who are active practitioners in a particular area, professional communities (communities of practices – CoP) can be useful because they are neutral and can provide a way to share best practices, ask questions of and provide support for each other outside the organization.

• reduce time and money through integrated system: using a “new” technology, the calendar, but not because of the calendar function, but organizing and sharing events, meetings, making appointment in a shorter time (instead of phone calls or sending lots of e-mails).

In general, it is recommended that management support the introduction of social media technologies, establish the terms and conditions of their usage, communicate the benefits and provide the necessary training for their effective use. Moreover, organizations should develop a reward system to provide additional motivation to employees to use social media tools for knowledge sharing.

Discussion and future research

Amazingly rapid expansion of the content sharing technologies has led to many of these technologies becoming an integral part of many people’s daily routine. We can easily collaborate and work with our colleagues at the opposite side of the world with the help of professional, fast instant messaging services in an effective way. Communities of practices’ “Meetup” video can be accessed almost immediately after the event on a video sharing site. Companies have to clearly identify what information and knowledge is to be kept confidential and what is to be shared and made available to others. Such practices as crowd-sourcing and open inNÓRA OBERMAYER-KOVÁCS – ANTHONY WENSLEY 59


novation practices have demonstrated the value of sharing information and knowledge that has previously been considered to be confidential.

In future, we expect that both the internal and external usage of the social media tools will increase. In our study, social media emerges a new perspective. Enormous information and knowledge can be shared using powerful tools to a world in which the social factors play an essential role. In our new accelerated world, numerous technologies have been developed to support social capital connections (social networking services like Facebook, LinkedIn) and to communicate in a more effective way (instant messaging services like Skype, Viber).

This paper introduces a survey that explores the usage of social media technologies through an investigation of the willingness of employees to participate in knowledge sharing.

In addition, we have explored whether there are generational differences relating to knowledge sharing behaviours. When we consider potential limitations the sample was gathered in Hungary, so we can make statements only for the Hungarian organizations. However, this permitted an in-depth study, and the scope of the survey with 299 respondents was larger than similar previous research studies. Most of our findings were unexpected and are not consistent with stereotypes about the generations.

We have hypothesized that younger generations have a greater willingness to use social media technologies. After our investigations we can state however that the members of Generation Y (younger generation) or employees with lower level position are less likely social media technologies in the workplace. We would postulate that this is because social media tools are more common among young people but they use them for private purposes, while using these tools for work (mainly for knowledge sharing or professional development) is more typical for Generation X and Baby Boomers (elder generations).

In 1993 Drucker predicted how Knowledge Economy will need to progress in order to obtain competitive advantage. He stated that “the productivity of knowledge is going to be the determining factor in the competitive position in a company, an industry, an entire country. No country, industry or company has any ‘natural’ advantage or disadvantage. The only advantage it can possess is the ability to exploit universally available knowledge. The only thing that increasingly will matter in national as in international economics is management’s performance in making knowledge productive” (Drucker, 1993. p. 193).

It seems that he predicted the rise of the online, open source, social media tools that can become widely available and prevalent in our modern business life. The willingness to use these technologies by Generation Y (and later for Generation Z) will not be enough. These new generations must be encouraged to make use of these technologies for work as well as for non-work related activities.


VOLUME 4 • ISSUE 1 (MARCH 2015) Our research could be expanded, as it would be interesting to make a comparison between knowledge sharing practices and usage of social media tools in other countries. The authors are already working on extending their work in this manner.

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