Analyzing the Interdependent Role of Network Centrality, Motivation and Ability in Knowledge Sharing

Sangyoon Jung, Sangkyu Rho


In the context of knowledge sharing, network position has been a controversial subject. A central position in the network provides access to non-redundant knowledge, leading to more opportunities of knowledge sharing. On the other hand, as “bridging” relationships, its characteristics as a “weak tie” suggest innate lack of trust and reciprocity which is considered an impediment to share knowledge. This paper attempts to enlighten the underlying dynamic by examining the interaction between network centrality, motivation and ability in knowledge sharing. Furthermore, this paper examines the concept of knowledge sharing ability in depth by operationalizing the construct into three aspects: extensive and diverse knowledge, social media utilization ability and self-efficacy. The results show a partially supported three-way interaction, where the highest level of knowledge provision is reported when the employee has low network centrality, high autonomous motivation and high knowledge sharing ability, i.e. extensive and diverse prior knowledge. Though all models indicate strong associations between network centrality and knowledge sharing, this suggests an even greater power of motivation and ability that gives the strength to overcome unfavorable environments of peripheral position. Therefore, this paper offers an alternative explanation to the existing debate whether network centrality positively or negatively influences knowledge sharing. 

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