Voluntary Knowledge Sharing (VKS) Model

Method / Knowledge and Intangibles

Voluntary Knowledge Sharing (VKS) Model
suleman , Professor, Pakistan


Knowledge has become prime source of economic production in modern enterprises; conceptualized by many researchers, as the only source of sustainable competitive advantage. Therefore many organizations are restructuring themselves to gain maximum value from their knowledge sources.

The Model presents an understanding of the dynamics of voluntary knowledge sharing by employees in an organization. The problem is approached with a tacit view of knowledge, considering that true knowledge is located only in the minds of the professionals working in the organization.

The model would be useful in analyzing the knowledge flow bottlenecks in an organization and developing strategies to improve knowledge utilization in organizations. The Knowledge Sharing Model proposed is represented by diagram. The four actors according to the model, that influence knowledge flow in an organization are:-

1. Communication Channels
2. Individual attitude
3. Group attitude and
4. Organization Policies

a) Communication Channels
The model places books, technical documents, research reports, data bases, Internet portals, seminars, interest groups and communities of practice as channels that facilitate knowledge transfer. Early human civilization was able to transfer knowledge from generation to generation because they were able to develop a language. Later on development of written script improved the process, similarly in mathematics development of integration and differentiation was able to convey very complex concepts, which were not possible before. Similarly the coming years may see newer channels for knowledge transfer.

b) Individual attitude
The model considers individual attitude from the point of view of attaining new knowledge from others in the group and secondly passing knowledge to colleagues working in the group. Mutual respect, equality and non-discriminative attitude are considered to be vital for knowledge sharing by individuals.

c) Group attitude
Individuals interact together to form a group; good individuals would naturally lead to good a group. But influence of group leader and group culture greatly influence group interaction. Large organizations have groups and sub-groups. The model considers group dynamics very important to increase knowledge sharing.

d) Organization Policies
The organizational policies navigate an organization towards better productivity or disaster; it is an extension of the values maintained by the management. Corporate culture is developed from the policies followed by an organization, and plays an important part for the promotion and development of knowledge sharing/ innovation activities in an organization.

Strongest criticism on the model may come from IT domain followers, objecting to the need of a cultural change for the success of Knowledge Sharing initiative and not the other way around. But recent research has proved that Knowledge Management is more a culturally based issue, rather than a technical matter. Similar to patriotism or love, patriotism cannot be grown directly in a child or an adult, but a culture is developed to promote the feelings. If an orchard is planted in a desert, it will never grow to blossom, until we provide it with a suitable environment.

The model provides a framework for analyzing dynamics of knowledge flow in an organization and guide management in taking initiatives to improve it. The model advocates for dealing justly with knowledge-workers, being careful in providing an encouraging environment for the knowledge workers.

Correlation between knowledge sharing behaviors of knowledge workers and organizational policies of a firm, (results discussed earlier) show a positive and a strong correlation between factors. Indicating that managers can control knowledge sharing behaviors in the firm by adopting a policy that promotes knowledge sharing, like correlation at individual level behaviors is 0.878 and Group level behavior is 0.882 which are quite strong. This shows that knowledge workers are much more aware of organizational policies than their predecessors. A change in organizational policy or its deviation from its documentation and practiced version is noticed by knowledge workers much more effectively than the labor class. This implies that managers, which themselves are knowledge workers have to develop company policies much more carefully, while keeping in mind the new paradigm.

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Other Views by this Author: Knowledge Sharing in a Cross-Cultural Environment

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