Wednesday 4 April 2012
Journal Club - The "social dilemma" of knowledge sharing.
Or should it be called "Are librarians Hedonists?" We'd like to provide an opportunity to share ideas and practise our critical appraisal skills. For two weeks there will be an opportunity to look at this paper, and post comments, discuss others' ideas.
Alice Lam, Jean-Paul Lambermont-Ford, (2010), "Knowledge sharing in organisational contexts: a motivation-based perspective", Journal of Knowledge Management, Vol 14 Iss: 1 pp51-66 - full text available via Emerald on The Knowledge Network.
We frequently hear about translating knowledge into practice, and there is currently a great focus on encouraging the sharing of knowledge. This paper looks at translating individual learning into organisational capability, surely something we are involved in daily, regardless of our sector. It takes a motivation based perspective to look at knowledge sharing in different organisational contexts, and considers a continuum of knowledge sharing – from opportunistic (taking advantage regardless of any possible consequences) to altruistic (completely unselfish). Who would have thought this was such a complex issue?
Read about different motivations:
- Extrinsic motivation - rewarded with additional resources e.g. promotion - encourages transactions, not relationships.
- Intrinsic motivation - satisfies a need - helps an individual to comply with personal and organisational values.
- Hedonic motivation - a third dimension - enjoyable activity, improving individual condition.
- Productive work v enjoyable work
- Professional v organisational identity
- Adhocracy (flexible, non-permanent) v bureaucracy (rules and laws)
- Knowledge hoarding v knowledge sharing
Are we librarians less precious about keeping things to ourselves by nature? After all, isn't a big buzz of our work seeing the user go away with what they need, when they hadn't had a clue how to get it? Are we really Hedonists? Does this hinder our understanding of such a complex issue? But is that the incentive the paper refers to?
Kathleen Irvine replied on 5 Apr 2012 at 11:08
Speaking of the behaviour of an entire porfessional group certainly risks oversimplification at best and stereotyping at worst, but that said, I feel librarians are good at sharing the products of their knowledge (information) but less good at sharing knowledge itself.
By way of example from yesterday, I was asked to check whether an incomplete citation was actually a journal article. I was able to tell the enquirer almost instantly that I could be failry certain it had not been published in that format but that the report was available online and to give the URL and put her in touch with the author who - on getting the full details - turned out be a personal friend. Job done, customer satisfied.
Or was it? If I were to behave as a truly hedonistic sharer of knowledge I would have shared the skills I used to discover this information (use of two federated search tools, an author check of appropriate Ovid and EBSCO databases and use of advanced Google Scholar search). Whether that information would have be interesting, useful or in future used by the enquirer is another matter, and arguably not my concern.
I found the paper interesting and has given me cause to reflect on my own behaviour and that of my organisation in how it promotes or fails to promote information sharing by its staff.
Elspeth Lee replied on 10 Apr 2012 at 13:30
Your last bit there reminds me of times when I find myself thinking "too much information" - the user has what they need, but there is a sense of wanting to give more. As you say, they won't always re-use that info, and regretably we rarely have time...or maybe some would say that's not such a bad thing! Nothing is ever simple.
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