Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to show that knowledge sharing is primarily based on a trading process – the business transaction process. Motivators as well as morale hazards for knowledge sharing based on existence needs, biosocial needs and cognitive needs are described. Design/methodology/approach – An industry survey followed by interviews discovers arguments supporting the business transaction theory. Results of the interviews are clustered and categorized according to Alderfer's pyramid. Morale hazards hampering knowledge sharing are derived thereof. Findings – The comprehensive online survey, combined with personal interviews, supports the business transaction theory. According to this theory, knowledge sharing is based on a trading process. During this process, which can be regarded as information exchange process, people evaluate information on individual basis in an asymmetric way. Modern portfolio theory can help to understand the motivation behind this process. Motivators as well as morale hazards for knowledge sharing were detected. Research limitations/implications – The business transaction theory is valid independent from cultures. However, the findings about morale hazards are cultural dependent. These findings represent hopes and fears of the Central European society. It would be interesting to perform the study in other regions and to compare the results. Practical implications – The results are valuable for companies which plan to improve their rewarding and incentive systems. Originality/value – Until recently researchers regarded trust, attitude and group support as the main drivers of successful knowledge‐sharing cultures. This paper shows that the underlying mechanism for knowledge sharing is rather based on a trading process.
Journal of Knowledge Management – Emerald Publishing
Published: Feb 20, 2009
Keywords: Knowledge sharing; Information transfer; Social values
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