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Trust and tacit knowledge sharing and use

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PurposeThis study aims to explore the impact of affect-based and cognition-based trust of co-workers on the willingness of professionals to share and use tacit knowledge. Design/methodology/approachThe relationships were examined through data provided by a sample of 202 professionals and managers in world headquarters of an international organization. FindingsThe levels of both types of trust influence the extent to which staff members are willing to share and use tacit knowledge. Affect-based trust has a significantly greater effect on the willingness to share tacit knowledge, while cognition-based trust plays a greater role in willingness to use tacit knowledge. Research limitations/implicationsThe data are cross-sectional and were also collected in one organization. Future studies should consider longitudinal designs across multiple organizations. Alternatively, archival information could be used to measure actual tacit knowledge sharing and use among co-workers. Practical implicationsThe results indicate that both distinct types of trust are involved in decisions affecting transfer and use of tacit knowledge. This suggests that knowledge management efforts may need to include a finer grained view of the nature of the social networks impacting the knowledge transfer and management process. Originality/valuePrevious studies have not examined the differential effects of both affect-based and cognition-based trust on employee willingness to share and use tacit knowledge.

Keywords: Knowledge management; Trust

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2010-02-23

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