Tacit Knowledge Transfer

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Tacit knowledge sharing, self-efficacy theory, and application to the Open Source community Megan Lee Endres, Steven P. Endres, Sanjib K. Chowdhury and Intakhab Alam

Abstract Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to apply the self-efficacy model to compare knowledge-sharing activities in the Open Source community versus those in a traditional organization. Design/methodology/approach – Current literature on tacit knowledge sharing and information about the Open Source community is synthesized in the study with research concerning self-efficacy formation. The knowledge-sharing literature is applied in the paper to the self-efficacy model. Findings – Through a synthesis of different streams of literature, the paper concludes that the self-efficacy model serves as a useful framework for better understanding the effects of context on tacit knowledge sharing. Furthermore, it is concluded that the Open Source community may provide an ideal set of subjects to whom the model can be applied. Research limitations/implications – Only propositions are offered, and the conclusions are suggestions for future research. The self-efficacy model has been successfully applied to other areas of research in early stages (e.g. entrepreneurship) and provides a valid, tangible framework that allows many research possibilities. Megan Lee Endres is Assistant Professor of Management, Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, Michigan, USA. Steven P. Endres is Principal Consultant and Owner, Complex Systems Management, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA. Sanjib K. Chowdhury is Associate Professor and Intakhab Alam is an MBA Student and Research Assistant, both at Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, Michigan, USA. Practical implications – The self-efficacy model is practical and usable in a real-world situation. A software manager (or other manager) can easily look at the inputs and outcomes of the model and see where he/she could positively affect tacit knowledge sharing. Originality/value – This paper takes a highly valid and respected model and applies it to individual tacit knowledge sharing, a field in which little cross-discipline work is done. This paper bridges a central organizational behavior/psychological theory with knowledge management research. Keywords Knowledge management, Open systems, Public domain software, Knowledge sharing Paper type Research paper

Highly complex, tacit knowledge can be a source of sustainable competitive advantage in organizations (Chen and Edgington, 2005; Grant and Baden-Fuller, 1995; Jashapara, 2003; ´ Lopez, 2005), especially in knowledge-based organizations such as software firms (Bryant, 2005). Complex, tacit knowledge is difficult to express and is often context specific, which provides the source of potential sustainability. However, due to its tacit quality, knowledge derived from the process of joint decisions is difficult to share with others outside the team, and may be difficult to study using research tools available today (Nonaka and Takeuchi, 1995). Tacit knowledge in this paper refers to the joint reasoning behind tradeoff decisions in software design work, such as in architecture, standards, and strategic intent. The software team must make these tradeoffs, but they are not expressed in the final written software source code. Past knowledge sharing research focuses on causes and impediments, but not as much on how knowledge sharing results in individual or group performance (Haas and Hansen, 2005). Recently, however, a few researchers have looked specifically at knowledge sharing as a system of influences, resulting in outcomes such as performance, and the impacts of feedback on future knowledge sharing (Bock et al., 2005; Haas and Hansen, 2005; Tsai and





VOL. 11 NO. 3 2007, pp. 92-103, Q Emerald Group Publishing Limited, ISSN 1367-3270

DOI 10.1108/13673270710752135

‘‘ Self-efficacy theory provides a unique theoretical model that...
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