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Journal of Knowledge Management

Knowledge sharing motivational factors of using an intra-organizational social media platform


Vilma Vuori Jussi Okkonen

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Vilma Vuori Jussi Okkonen, (2012),"Knowledge sharing motivational factors of using an intra-organizational social media platform", Journal
of Knowledge Management, Vol. 16 Iss 4 pp. 592 - 603
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Alexander Ardichvili, Vaughn Page, Tim Wentling, (2003),"Motivation and barriers to participation in virtual knowledge-sharing communities
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Gian Casimir, Karen Lee, Mark Loon, (2012),"Knowledge sharing: influences of trust, commitment and cost", Journal of Knowledge
Management, Vol. 16 Iss 5 pp. 740-753 http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/13673271211262781
Alice Lam, Jean-Paul Lambermont-Ford, (2010),"Knowledge sharing in organisational contexts: a motivation-based perspective", Journal of
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Knowledge sharing motivational factors


of using an intra-organizational social
media platform
Vilma Vuori and Jussi Okkonen

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Abstract
Purpose This paper aims to discuss the motivational factors affecting the knowledge sharing through
an intra-organizational social media platform and to answer the following research questions: What
motivates employees to share their knowledge through an intra-organizational social media platform?;
What impedes them sharing knowledge this way?; and Do these factors differ from those motivational
factors regarding knowledge sharing in general?.
Vilma Vuori and
Jussi Okkonen are both
Post-doc Researchers in
the Department of Business
Information Management
and Logistics, Tampere
University of Technology,
Tampere, Finland.

Design/methodology/approach The paper approaches the issue from both theoretical and empirical
viewpoints. The motivational factors regarding knowledge sharing in general are summed up from
literature. The social media platform perspective to the issue is studied by conducting a survey in two
companies.
Findings The results reveal that the motivation to share knowledge through an intra-organizational
social media platform is the desire to help the organization reach its goals and helping colleagues, while
financial rewards and advancing ones career were seen as least motivating. The key issues enabling
the success of using a collaborative intra-organizational social media platform in knowledge sharing are
in line with the general knowledge sharing motivational factors, although supplemented with some
additional features: reciprocity in knowledge sharing, making every-day work easier and faster and ease
of use are the key factors that make or break the success.
Originality/value The empirical study reveals what motivates and impedes the employees of the
companies to share knowledge via an intra-organizational social media platform. The results are
discussed in the light of those from earlier research about general knowledge sharing motivational
factors.
Keywords Social media, Motivation, Barriers, Knowledge sharing, Organizational culture, Employees
Paper type Case study

1. Introduction
In contemporary organizations leverage in information management and refinement is
sought from several sources. Novel approaches, such as social media applications (see
e.g. Vuori and Okkonen, 2012; Luoma and Okkonen, 2009; Razmerita et al., 2009;
Grossman, 2008; Levy, 2009), are found useful in work context, especially when embedded
to other information systems. In work context it is assumed that people use the tools that are
issued, yet the question remains: how efficiently those tools are used? The usage is an issue
of organizational conventions and individual working habits, but taking advantage of
non-conventional tools personal motivation of using those tools and motivation to share
knowledge play the key roles. In addition, the fact with most people is that avoiding excess
work is somewhat of an endogenous attribute.

Received: November 2011


Revised: January 2012
February 2012
Accepted: March 2012

PAGE 592

Knowledge sharing per se has been studied a lot, and the general motivational factors
affecting employees knowledge sharing are well known (see e.g. Bock and Kim, 2002; Ipe,
2003; Riege, 2005; Bock et al., 2005; Lin, 2007; Barachini, 2009; Gagne, 2009; Holste and
Fields, 2010; Suppiah and Sandhu, 2010). Starting, for example, from Hendriks (1999),
Cabrera and Cabrera (2002) or Ardichvili et al. (2003) to more recent approaches of Hsu and

JOURNAL OF KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT

VOL. 16 NO. 4 2012, pp. 592-603, Q Emerald Group Publishing Limited, ISSN 1367-3270

DOI 10.1108/13673271211246167

Chuan-Chuan Lin (2006) and Lin (2007) motivational factors could be categorized as
intrinsic or extrinsic, that is, internal or external factors also in the context of using ICT.

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Significance of motivational factors varies by individuals, yet interpretations of those factors


could be seen as somewhat general. However, when introducing a new way or channel for
knowledge sharing, can we presume that the general motivational factors prevail?
Especially in a situation of having to learn to use new technologies and ways of
communicating there are organizational and individual factors affecting the implementation
(see e.g. Ardichvili et al., 2003; Jeon et al., 2011b). The context per se does not affect, yet
underlying factors remain the same.
The paper discusses the motivational factors affecting the knowledge sharing in an
intra-organizational social media platform. Social media tools, and especially platforms
utilizing and combining different social media technologies, are assumed to enhance
intra-organizational knowledge sharing (see e.g. Schneckenberg, 2009; Razmerita et al.,
2009; Jeon et al., 2011b). The technology enables more versatile ways of interacting than
before, but since knowledge is always person-bound (Huber, 1991), if the people
possessing the knowledge are not motivated to use social media platform to share their
knowledge, the platform and technologies do not create any additional value and do not
enhance knowledge sharing.
The research problem for this paper can be expressed in form of the following questions:
1. What motivates an organizations employees to share their knowledge through an
intra-organizational social media platform?
2. What keeps them from sharing knowledge this way?
3. Do these factors differ from those motivational factors regarding knowledge sharing in
general?
The paper approaches the issue from both theoretical and empirical viewpoints. The
motivational factors regarding knowledge sharing in general are summed up from the
literature. The social media platform perspective to the issue is studied by conducting a
survey in two industrial companies. The empirical study reveals what motivates and impedes
the employees of the companies to share knowledge through an intra-organizational social
media platform. The results are discussed in the light of those from earlier research about
general knowledge sharing motivational factors.
Knowing the motivational factors helps companies that are planning to use a social media
platform in knowledge sharing. Moreover, recognition of motivational factors helps to
allocate managerial efforts for nurturing employees knowledge sharing motivation in the
right places as well as aids them to pinpoint the possible problem areas, thus enabling them
to avoid the most common pitfalls.

2. The background and initial work


Knowledge sharing is the act of making knowledge available to others within the
organization (Ipe, 2003, p. 341). It is a voluntary, conscious act between two or more
individuals resulting to joint ownership of the knowledge between the sender and the
receiver (Davenport, 1997; Ipe, 2003). According to Ipe (2003) the major factors influencing
knowledge sharing are the nature of knowledge, motivation to share, opportunities to share
and organizational culture. Hannon (1997) states that engaging employees to share their
knowledge is a three-folded challenge: first, employees may not know that the knowledge
they possess might be of value to the company. Second, in line with Ipe (2003), even if they
recognize the importance of the knowledge, they may not be motivated to share it. Third,
again agreeing with Ipe (2003), even if the employees are motivated, there may be no
medium to share knowledge to others in the company. This paper concentrates on the
motivational factors of knowledge sharing, although organizational knowledge sharing
culture is also discussed in brief, as it affects the attitudes towards knowledge sharing in
general (see e.g. Ho, 2009).

VOL. 16 NO. 4 2012 JOURNAL OF KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT PAGE 593

Motivational factors can be divided into intrinsic and extrinsic (see e.g. Ryan and Deci, 2000;
Lin, 2007), that is, those internal and those external to an individual. According to Ryan and
Deci (2000) intrinsic motivation is a drive to do something that is self-rewarding and extrinsic
motivation is a drive to do something for external sanction. In the case of extrinsic motivation
the issue is either to avoid negative sanction or to gain positive sanction. However, even if
extrinsic motivation is more obvious, and easily comprehended, there are also some
underlying intrinsic factors as well, for example, someone wanting financial rewards for
altruistic reasons.
Intrinsic motivation is derived directly from the work itself (Frey, 2002, p. 75), for example
altruism as in feeling good about doing the work in the first place, regardless if there is no
extra reward. Knowledge self-efficacy and enjoyment in helping others are also distinct
motivational factors (Lin, 2007). Moreover, the main point on intrinsic motivation is to do
something that externally may seem utterly pointless, but leads internally to fulfillment and is
thus self-rewarding.

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Extrinsic motivation is influenced by indirect or instrumental needs that bring satisfaction


independently of the outcome of the actual work, for example, getting financial or social
rewards (Jeon et al., 2011a). Frey (2002) mentions self-promotion, expected reputational
advantages or other advances in social or organizational status as drivers for extrinsic
motivation. Lin (2007) underlines expected organizational rewards and reciprocal benefits
as key sources of extrinsic motivation. Compared to intrinsic motivation, extrinsic motivation
is directly interconnected with sanction, thus it makes sense also externally. It is debatable
whether a motivational factor is intrinsic or extrinsic. Some factors are overlapping, and it
depends on the interpreter whether it is seen as internal or external.
Summarizing several authors (Davenport, 1997; Davenport and Prusak, 1998; Huemer et al.,
1998; Nahapiet and Ghoshal, 1998; Weiss, 1999; Ipe, 2003; Barachini, 2009; Jeon et al.,
2011b) the key motivational factors that positively affect and enhance knowledge sharing
are:
B

contributing to organizations success;

getting incentives and rewards;

feeling empowered;

getting knowledge in return, i.e. reciprocity;

boosting own reputation;

adding value to knowledge; and

trusting that sharing is worthwhile

Jeon et al. (2011a) find that even though both extrinsic and intrinsic motivational factors have
a positive effect on knowledge sharing attitudes in communities-of-practice, the intrinsic
factors (e.g. enjoyment in helping others and need for affiliation) were more significant.
Paroutis and Al Saleh (2011) studied employees willingness to use and contribute to social
media platforms, and found that factors affecting knowledge sharing were related to old
habits of doing things, expected benefits and rewards, perceived support from the
organization and management, and trust issues. Motivation could also be an issue of
affordance, that is, those features of a system that enable or restrict its use (Hartson, 2003).
According to Bower (2008) expected utility of using a tool, in this case a social media
platform, causes affordance and leads to motivation to use it and eventually to knowledge
sharing motivation.
It is not enough to give permission and prerequisites for knowledge sharing, but the
motivational factors need to be actively fostered and enhanced (Bock and Kim, 2002). All
the motivational factors are not straight-forward fostered. For example, offering a tangible
reward for employees who actively share knowledge is seen as a good way to motivate
them to share (Ipe, 2003; Swart and Kinnie, 2003; Jeon et al., 2011a). However, research
(Kohn, 1993; Bock and Kim, 2002) also shows that rewards only work temporarily, as long
as they are provided, but do not permanently change the attitude towards knowledge

PAGE 594 JOURNAL OF KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT VOL. 16 NO. 4 2012

sharing. In fact, using rewards is a double-edged sword: rewards can even impede
knowledge sharing (Kohn, 1993). The effect of rewarding is especially underlined in the
case of low expected utility of sharing: rewards temporarily boost knowledge sharing, but
as there seems to be no utility except the reward, people shift to other activities with
higher expectation of utility.

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In addition to motivation, knowledge sharing is influenced by the companys organizational


culture, that is, the basic pattern of assumptions, values and beliefs and the practice of how
members of a company perform their tasks, and act on problems (see e.g. Schein, 2004;
Leidner and Alavi, 2006). Rather simple behavioral choices affect the formation of
organizational culture. For example, keeping doors open and thus inviting collegial
interaction or enabling hallway discussions promotes a more symbiotic organizational
culture (Liebowitz, 2006) and creates more opportunities for knowledge sharing.
Respectively a culture where personal advantage over collective efforts is emphasized
and helping others is not valued does not create favorable setting for knowledge sharing.
Organizational culture also influences the understanding of what knowledge is important
and valuable (De Long and Fahey, 2000). So, even if an individual would be motivated to
share knowledge the organizational culture may set barriers to it.

3. The research setting and method


The paper aims to contribute to understanding of the motivational factors and barriers
regarding knowledge sharing through an intra-organizational social media platform, and
whether these factors differ from those concerning knowledge sharing in general. The
problem was approached by collecting data as a case study research from two
companies in the early stages of adopting social media for internal knowledge sharing
purposes. The data gathered from the companies were joint and analyzed as a single
data set.
Taking the organizational knowledge sharing culture and the motivational factors of
participating as a starting point three sets of questions were elaborated. Those questions
were:
Q1.

Does the organizational culture of the case companies set barriers for knowledge
sharing?

Q2.

What would motivate the employees to share knowledge through a social media
platform?

Q3.

What would impede the employees to share knowledge through a social media
platform?

In order to answer these questions it was necessary to have the case companies employees
themselves as data sources. The perspective of the study is therefore that of the employees,
although the answers enlighten also the companies overall situation, as described by the
employees.
The data was gathered using a web questionnaire which was considered as a suitable
technique considering the objectives of the study: the aim was to reach a large group of
people in a rather short period of time, and to find out averages, majorities and an overall
picture (Ghauri and Grnhaug, 2005). The questionnaire was available via case companies
intranet for two weeks in February 2010. Anyone who had access to the intranet had the
theoretical opportunity to answer the questionnaire. In practice only those who actually saw
the announcement in the intranet ever had the chance to actually participate, and so the
questionnaire used non-random sampling (Kehoe and Pitkow, 1996).
The problem with online questionnaires is that the response rate cannot usually be
calculated accurately (see e.g. Kaye and Johnson, 1999; Couper, 2000; Bowen et al., 2009).
The information about the amount of people who visited the company intranet (and
subsequently had the chance to notice the request to answer the questionnaire) during the
time the questionnaire was open for answering was not available. Hence, the response rate

VOL. 16 NO. 4 2012 JOURNAL OF KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT PAGE 595

(rr) was calculated as suggested by Eysenbach and Wyatt (2002) and Kaye and Johnson
(1999) as follows:
rr

number of completed respnses


number of completed responses number of accessed but not completed responses

Using the equation above the calculated response rate was 48 percent. The final amount of
completed responses was altogether 148.
As the concept of a social media platform may be understood differently depending on the
person and context in question, it was necessary to build a unanimous understanding of
what was meant by it in the questionnaire. To achieve this, the recipients were given the
following definition of an intra-organizational social media platform:
Collaborative platform can be defined as a set of software components and software services
that enable individuals to find each other and the information they need and to be able to
communicate and work together to achieve common business goals (see e.g. Wikipedia).

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Consider that your company would have an organization-wide technological collaboration


platform for sharing knowledge. The platform would allow you to publish your knowledge and
insights, ask questions, comment and discuss with others about external environment related
issues, and search for knowledge and people within the platform.

The term social media was replaced with collaborative or collaboration. This was done
for the sake of clarity, as social media is still a fairly ambiguous term and could have
distracted the respondents. Therefore the platform was described by the actions it would
enable, that is, collaboration and knowledge sharing.
The questionnaire used five-point likert scale questions. A five-point scale was chosen since
it gives a wide enough variety of alternatives and provides also a neutral alternative. In
addition to fixed-end likert scale questions, the respondents could explain and complete
their answers with their own words in comment boxes after each question.
Pearsons Chi-square test for independence was performed on parts of the questionnaire
data in order to identify possible statistical significances and connections between two
categorical variables. The interest was to find out whether individual features, such as age or
familiarity with social media, affected the respondents answers significantly. The test
Chi-square value calculation is done as follows:
X2

XX f 0 2 f s
fs

where is the observed frequency and is the expected frequency based on the null
hypothesis (see e.g. Alkula et al., 1994). The significance level for tests in the study was
chosen to be five per cent ( p# 0.05). The statistical tests were made using Microsoft Excel
and SAS Enterprise Guide software.

4. The results of the survey


4.1 Knowledge sharing culture
The knowledge sharing culture of the companies was explored with several statements
(Figure 1). The aim was to ascertain, what might be the intervening factors regarding
knowledge sharing motivation, how the recipients perceived the knowledge sharing to
function at the moment and how does the company affect it. The results are illustrated in
Figure 1.
The results reveal that organizational culture or general attitude does not set particular
challenges for knowledge sharing in the companies. Knowledge sharing within the
companies was considered to be worthwhile and supported by the company. Therefore it
can be assumed that the barriers come from motivational factors: if knowledge sharing is not
working, it is a question of not being motivated enough. However, the respondents
comments revealed that even though knowledge sharing is understood to be significant and

PAGE 596 JOURNAL OF KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT VOL. 16 NO. 4 2012

Figure 1 Organizational knowledge sharing culture

Consider the following statements according to your own opinion


Knowledge sharing with others in the organisation is
valuable

4.48

Knowledge sharing with others in the organisation is


beneficial

4.33

Knowledge sharing with others in the organisation is


pleasant

3.90

The organisation supports knowledge sharing

3.73

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The knowledge in the organisation is located


in silos and is not shared efficiently

3.26

The opportunities to share knowledge within the


organisation are sufficient

3.04

It is easy to find the person with the knowledge I need

2.91

There are valid processes/channels to share knowledge


between different locations and departments

2.62

It is hard to share knowledge in other ways than in


discussions because it is hard to express in written form

2.17
1

Note: 1 = strongly disagree; 5 = strongly agree

important from everyones own perspective, sharing knowledge with others is still
considered problematic.
Companies naturally have to keep important knowledge safe, which can also lead to a very
protective attitude towards knowledge. In the case companies this has led to quite a strict
information security policy that in some cases was considered excessive. People do not
have access to other segments or units information systems, although there could be
valuable knowledge that should cross organizational borders. In addition to motivational
factors the knowledge sharing efficiency depended also on the opportunities to share.
Knowledge sharing was experienced to be somewhat cumbersome because of insufficient
access to knowledge over organizational borders and lack of sufficient channels for
knowledge sharing.

4.2 Knowledge sharing motivational factors


The second set of questions was focused on factors that positively affect the knowledge
sharing. The factors were divided in intrinsic (I) and extrinsic (E) motivational factors, as
illustrated in Figure 2.
The results reveal that the respondents were committed to help their organization to reach its
goals and were willing to share knowledge if it is reciprocal: getting something valuable in
return motivates to share ones knowledge. The top two factors motivating to share
knowledge through an intra-organizational social media platform were intrinsic, as they
suggest that knowledge is shared altruistically to help the organization or colleagues.
Correspondingly, the respondents were not motivated by self-centered rewarding: such
extrinsic motivational factors as promotion opportunities, financial reward or showing off to
others were the least motivating things.

VOL. 16 NO. 4 2012 JOURNAL OF KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT PAGE 597

Figure 2 Factors motivating to share knowledge through an intra-organizational social


media platform

What would motivate you to share knowledge through such platform?

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(I) I want to help my organisation to reach its goals

4.40

(I) I enjoy helping my colleagues by sharing


my knowledge

4.04

(E) Expecting to receive knowledge in return

3.99

(E) It makes my job easier

3.99

(E) It is part of my job

3.98

(E) Believing that my future requests


for knowledge will be answered
(I) Strengthening ties between other members
in my organisation and myself

3.77

(I) I feel that I have something to give

3.76

(E) I want to achieve my own goals

3.71

(E) Expanding my scope of association

3.67

3.78

(I) I am curious

3.29

(E) Getting more acknowledgement and better


acceptance of my person and my ideas

3.04

(E) Gaining recognition from colleagues and superiors

2.94

(E) I want to show off my experience

2.50

(E) I believe it secures my job

2.41

(E) Gaining financial rewarding

2.33

(E) It may bring me promotion opportunities

2.28

Notes: Divided into intrinsic (I) and extrinsic (E). 1 = not at all; 5 = extremely much

Overall the respondents seemed to be quite eager to share knowledge if the motivational
factors would be in place: the average of the answers was 3.40 and the lowest mean was
2.28 (expecting promotion opportunities). The respondents were positive about sharing
knowledge through an intra-organizational social media platform.
Even though financial rewards were seen as one of the least motivating factors, the
complementary comments revealed that some kind of rewarding was seen as a good way to
motivate employees to change the current practices (e.g. excessive e-mailing, storing
information in several databases) towards using a social media platform. According to
several respondents, praise and words of thanks from the superiors were seen as motivating
factors, where as plain orders and obligation to share knowledge would just turn people
against it, or at least it would defect the quality of knowledge.
The results show that the best way to motivate the respondents to use a social media
platform for knowledge sharing would be assuring them that by using the platform their work
load will not increase but it will facilitate and ease their work instead.

PAGE 598 JOURNAL OF KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT VOL. 16 NO. 4 2012

Statistical testing (Pearson Chi-Square test) was used to find out how the respondents age
and overall familiarity with social media affected their answers. The Chi-Square test was
performed for the top three motivating factors and age, and again with the familiarity. The
results did not show any significant dependency between the factors ( p . 0.05 in all cases).

4.3 Knowledge sharing barriers


The third question set examined the barriers of knowledge sharing, that is, the factors that
hinder the employees from sharing their knowledge through a social media platform. Again
the questions were expressed in form of statements that the respondents evaluated in likert
scale from their own point-of-view. Figure 3 illustrates the results.

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According to the results the barriers were not significantly present in the companies: on a
scale from 1 to 5, 1 was the mode in almost every question (Figure 2). This indicates that
respondents do not find these factors inhibit their knowledge sharing but are fairly keen to
share their knowledge to others in their company.

Figure 3 Barriers impeding knowledge sharing through an intra-organizational social


media platform

What would impede you to share knowledge through such platform?


It takes too much time and effort

2.92

It is just another information system

2.61

I am not getting enough knowledge in return

2.29

I do not know with whom to share the knowledge

2.28

I feel insecure about how my knowledge might


be received and understood
I think the current channels to share
knowledge are efficient enough
I do not believe I can get good
quality knowledge from there

1.96

I am not being adequately rewarded or acknowledged

1.89

2.22
2.10

I already have a good knowledge sharing network


and I do not want to contribute to another

1.69

I do not think my knowledge is important enough

1.67

I am not sure whether my knowledge is reliable


and do not want to risk losing my face

1.62

I am afraid of criticism

1.51

I do not want to share my knowledge


with people I do not know well

1.49

I am afraid of losing the ownership of the knowledge

1.49

I am afraid that if I reveal what I know people will


think I am not as proficient as they had expected
I am afraid of losing the power and leverage
brought by my knowledge

1.46
1.46
1

Note: 1 = not at all; 5 = extremely much

VOL. 16 NO. 4 2012 JOURNAL OF KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT PAGE 599

The most significant barrier was concern that it would take too much time and effort to share
knowledge through a social media platform. If the platform is not easy to use and it does not
benefit the users by making their work easier, they will not want to use it but will stick to their
current ways of working and sharing knowledge. A third of the comments in the questionnaire
could be summarized as two statements: using a collaborative platform takes too much
time and hanging in this kind of a company Facebook site is not real working but a waste of
time. Respondents greatest concern about knowledge sharing via a social media platform is
the assumption that it either increases the workload, takes excessive time from the actual
work, or is inefficient altogether. Some of this may spring from a traditional perception of what
working is, which does not include chatting or sharing links.

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Another concern was that a social media platform would be just another information system.
As there are already many information systems the employees are obligated to use even if
they do not find them beneficial to themselves, it is understandable that they are not too
eager to learn how to use yet another information system to contribute to. Respondents
suspected that most people would still be clinging to the current practices and channels of
knowledge sharing even if new ones would ease the workload in the long run. It is also seen
that some, often ageing, employees are not willing or able to adopt new ways of working or
use new technologies. To study whether age had any significance to the barriers, Chi-square
tests were performed to find out if the age and overall familiarity had an effect on the
responses. In this case, too, no significant effect was found between these background
factors and the responses ( p . 0.05).

5. The summary and discussion


The research problem of this paper was set by three questions and it was approached by
operationalizing the motivational factors in form of a survey. The first of the questions was:
what motivates an organizations employees to share their knowledge within an
intra-organizational social media platform. As stated above, the general attitude towards
knowledge sharing is positive and it is found useful, that is, the respondents see the value of
sharing. However, the emphasis was on recognizing usefulness of knowledge sharing, not
on the ease of actually doing so.
The employees attitude towards knowledge and knowledge sharing is decisively shaped by
the organization culture of the company. If the culture does not support knowledge sharing, it
does not matter what channel is used for it. Therefore, in order to make the most of the
potential of social media tools, such as a social media platform, in intra-organizational
knowledge sharing the mindset and attitude towards knowledge should be prepared to
better accept the sharing of knowledge in general.
The motive to share knowledge through an intra-organizational social media platform is the
desire to help the organization reach its goals and helping colleagues, while financial
rewards and advancing ones career were seen as least motivating. That is, in the case of a
social media platform the top two motivating factors were both intrinsic and correspondingly
the bottom two were extrinsic. A rough explanation for that might be that people who are
accustomed in knowledge sharing through social media platforms would do it. Those who
are not accustomed would not share even if there was a reward. This is related to the issue of
the affordance of such platforms.
What comes to the barriers keeping respondents from using an intra-organizational social
media platform for knowledge sharing, the most significant one was the fear of using such
platform would take additional time and effort compared to existing practices and that it would
be just another information system on top of the existing ones. In general, people use the tools
they find useful and practical. Avoiding wasting time on, yet another, information system is an
indication of emphasizing the issue of practicality, that is, effort should not exceed gains.
Based on the results it can be concluded that the key issues enabling the success of using a
collaborative intra-organizational social media platform in knowledge sharing are in line with
the general knowledge sharing motivation factors, although supplemented with some
additional features. In the case of a social media platform the benefits of using a platform

PAGE 600 JOURNAL OF KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT VOL. 16 NO. 4 2012

should be implicit: reciprocity in knowledge sharing, making every-day work easier and
faster and ease of use are the key factors that make or break the success. Moreover, there
might be several intervening factors that explain usage or non-usage. The issue of using
social media platforms was not approached from that perspective and therefore the results
this far concern using platform only from the perspective of the users.

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The results discussed in this paper underline the importance of intrinsic motivation, but the
analysis is based on operationalization done by the authors. The issue of intrinsic or extrinsic
motivation was not directly asked nor explained to the respondents. It is not a shortcoming
per se, yet it should be taken in account when evaluating the findings. The findings, and
therefore the conclusions, were based on partial analysis of a larger survey thus there might
be at least some gaps, for example, descriptive nature of the results. Moreover, due to
sampling used for survey the results remain descriptive and explorative. As presented
above, any strong correlations between presented factors cannot be made. For such results
more comprehensive research should be conducted, yet the results of this paper serve
significant role when composing hypothesis for further research. As applying social media
platforms in value creating business activities is novel, this paper serves well as new
opening in the field of managerial information system research.
Most important practical implications rise from respondents attitude towards social media.
As presented above such platform was mainly seen as tool, thus value of such tool is
dependent on perceived value of usage. Especially the motivational factors (see Figure 2)
give important lesson by pointing out the importance on intrinsic motivation. To put it vice
versa: usage of social media platforms cannot be forced as it should be based on
voluntarism and mutual benefit and it cannot be forced.
Further research calls for examining also factors also that might enlighten affordance of
social media platforms. Motivation to use tools and affordance are tightly knit together and
this relationship needs also deeper analysis in order to draw a more complete picture of the
motivational factors of using intra-organizational social media platform in knowledge
sharing. The issue of affordance should be studied more thoroughly in order to enlighten
indirect personal, social and organizational factors.

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About the authors


Vilma Vuori works as a Post-doc Researcher at the Department of Business Information
Management and Logistics at Tampere University of Technology, Finland. Her research
interests focus on business and competitive intelligence, knowledge management, social
media and business networks. She has been working in different research projects
regarding business and competitive intelligence as a project manager as well as in research
assignments. She has written several articles on business and competitive intelligence.
Vilma Vuori is the corresponding author and can be contacted at: vilma.vuori@tut.fi
Jussi Okkonen works as a Post-doc Researcher at the Department of Business Information
Management and Logistics at Tampere University of Technology. His teaching and research
interests are on managerial issues of knowledge work, knowledge management and refining
in different knowledge intensive settings, e.g. in growth ventures, engineering and
manufacturing, and marketing. He has been working in different research projects on
knowledge work considering different aspects of performance enhancement. He has written
several articles on utilization of collaborative tools in information and knowledge
management.

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