Structured articulation of knowledge: The influence of question response structure on recipient attitude
Bircham-Connolly, H. J. (2007). Structured articulation of knowledge: The influence of question response structure on recipient attitude (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/10289/2539
Permanent Research Commons link: http://hdl.handle.net/10289/2539
Business today is faced with discontinuity and unpredictable change, which makesmany of the structured processes of yesteryear redundant or obsolete. Process-basedtransactions are being replaced with technology and increasingly organisations arerecognising the importance of proactively managing their knowledge transactions, toremain competitive. While research on knowledge sharing is gaining the attention ofresearchers, almost invariably their focus has been on the factors influencingknowledge transfer at the macro-level in large multi-national organisations. Fewhave attempted to unravel the complexities of individual-to-individual micro-levelknowledge sharing and those that have, for the most part have directed theirinvestigations towards exploring factors that enhance or impede the source individualsharing their knowledge, rather than the recipient's receiving of knowledge. Whilequestioning is implicit in knowledge sharing there are assumptions that underpin thestructure of a question and these assumptions affect both the source and therecipient.This study investigates how the structure of a question posed to a source individualwhen eliciting knowledge, influences the attitude of a recipient individual towards theknowledge they receive from the question response. Drawing upon theoreticalassumptions that underpin question structure, three hypotheses are posed tocompare binary, open-ended and directed question responses. To test thehypotheses a progression of three independent studies were performed usinglaboratory and field experiments. The first study conducted in a laboratory, used acontrived scenario case as the knowledge context and the second study replicatedthis experiment in the field. The last study conducted in a single organisation, usedreal organisational knowledge as the knowledge context.Recipients of shared knowledge were found to be more favourably disposed towardsquestion responses that were structured in a complex manner; open-ended anddirected question responses were more favoured than binary question responses.iiThere was no difference in recipient attitude between open-ended and directedquestion responses and recipient attitude towards the shared knowledge was foundto be positively related to their intention to use the knowledge in the future.These findings are of significance as they illustrate the importance of structuringquestions in a manner that is consistent with recipients of the shared knowledgebeing more favourably disposed towards the knowledge they have received. In anenvironment of ambiguity, complexity and uncertainty where decisions are nonprogrammed,strategic and imperative to the competitiveness of the organisation, nolonger is the binary 'Yes' or 'No' compliance or audit style question, with its implicitassumptions, sufficient to elicit knowledge. It is important to recognise that often wedo not know what we need to know until it is shared by someone. Further, whenshared knowledge is cognitively processed with our current knowledge base, the newknowledge is likely to facilitate more informed decision-making. The morefavourably disposed the recipient is towards the knowledge the more likely it is thatthey will use it in the future; knowledge is transferred.
The University of Waikato
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