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Structured articulation of knowledge: The influence of question response structure on recipient attitude

Business today is faced with discontinuity and unpredictable change, which makes many of the structured processes of yesteryear redundant or obsolete. Process-based transactions are being replaced with technology and increasingly organisations are recognising the importance of proactively managing their knowledge transactions, to remain competitive. While research on knowledge sharing is gaining the attention of researchers, almost invariably their focus has been on the factors influencing knowledge transfer at the macro-level in large multi-national organisations. Few have attempted to unravel the complexities of individual-to-individual micro-level knowledge sharing and those that have, for the most part have directed their investigations towards exploring factors that enhance or impede the source individual sharing their knowledge, rather than the recipient's receiving of knowledge. While questioning is implicit in knowledge sharing there are assumptions that underpin the structure of a question and these assumptions affect both the source and the recipient. This study investigates how the structure of a question posed to a source individual when eliciting knowledge, influences the attitude of a recipient individual towards the knowledge they receive from the question response. Drawing upon theoretical assumptions that underpin question structure, three hypotheses are posed to compare binary, open-ended and directed question responses. To test the hypotheses a progression of three independent studies were performed using laboratory and field experiments. The first study conducted in a laboratory, used a contrived scenario case as the knowledge context and the second study replicated this experiment in the field. The last study conducted in a single organisation, used real organisational knowledge as the knowledge context. Recipients of shared knowledge were found to be more favourably disposed towards question responses that were structured in a complex manner; open-ended and directed question responses were more favoured than binary question responses. ii There was no difference in recipient attitude between open-ended and directed question responses and recipient attitude towards the shared knowledge was found to be positively related to their intention to use the knowledge in the future. These findings are of significance as they illustrate the importance of structuring questions in a manner that is consistent with recipients of the shared knowledge being more favourably disposed towards the knowledge they have received. In an environment of ambiguity, complexity and uncertainty where decisions are nonprogrammed, strategic and imperative to the competitiveness of the organisation, no longer is the binary 'Yes' or 'No' compliance or audit style question, with its implicit assumptions, sufficient to elicit knowledge. It is important to recognise that often we do not know what we need to know until it is shared by someone. Further, when shared knowledge is cognitively processed with our current knowledge base, the new knowledge is likely to facilitate more informed decision-making. The more favourably disposed the recipient is towards the knowledge the more likely it is that they will use it in the future; knowledge is transferred.
Type of thesis
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 https://hdl.handle.net/10289/2539
The University of Waikato
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