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By Fon Sundaravej

The Strength of Weak Ties You Can Trust: The Mediating Role of Trust in
Effective Knowledge Transfer
By aniel !" #evin and Ro$ Cross
A few studies have researched an integrated impact of structural and relational
variables to the receipt of useful information or knowledge. This research is conducted to
answer the inquiries which strong or weak social network between knowledge seekers
and knowledge sources provides more useful knowledge and why and how the role of
perceived trustworthiness associates the type of transferred knowledge.
!revious studies on knowledge transfer are differentiated into three categories"
structural# relational# and knowledge characteristics. Social network or structural
characteristic can be classified into two groups# which are strong and weak ties. The
strong tie characteri$es a frequent interaction between a knowledge seeker and
knowledge source# whereas the weak tie group refers to people who have infrequent
interaction among their group. !revious studies demonstrate that people tend to acquire
information from a strong tie person who is accessible and willing to help. %aining useful
and non&redundant knowledge is# however# a benefit from a person with weak ties.
'elational characteristic is defined as perceived trustworthiness or the quality of
the trusted person that makes the person who trusts willing to be vulnerable. !revious
studies argue that trusting relationship leads to greater knowledge e(change. !eople are
willing to e(change useful resources when trust e(ists. )n this conte(t# two types of trust
are identified" benevolent&based trust and competent&based trust. Benevolence trust or
motivation trust makes a knowledge seeker eager to learn more knowledge even though
)S *+,- Theoretical Foundations of )nformation Systems 'esearch# Fall .//0 1
By Fon Sundaravej
he already gained knowledge from a knowledge source. 2ompetence trust or ability trust
influences a knowledge seeker to absorb and make use of that knowledge from an
e(perienced knowledge source.
3nowledge characteristic focuses on types of transferred knowledge which are
e(plicit and tacit knowledge. 4(plicit knowledge is known as knowledge that can be
coded and easily understood# while the tacit knowledge such as detailed insights#
intuitions# and beliefs is difficult to e(press and slow to transfer. Thus# people with strong
ties should associate the project dealing tacit knowledge. )n contrast# a network of weak
ties which requires less cost to maintain should gain an advantage of the project requiring
e(plicit knowledge.
)n addition# the authors propose their own characteristic of integrated types
5structural# relational# and knowledge related6 to solve distinct findings for social network
ties and to develop the role of perceived trustworthiness in knowledge seeking and
transferring.
From above classified theory regarding the knowledge transfer# the authors form
four hypotheses. The authors presume from the structural characteristic that stronger ties#
more so than weaker ones# lead to the receipt of useful knowledge. !eople tend to trust
their strong tie network because each of them is an e(pertise in a particular area and they
share common way of thoughts# communication# and goals. The authors# accordingly#
assume from the relational characteristic that the link between strong ties and the receipt
of useful knowledge is mediated by benevolence&based trust and competence&based trust.
7owever# when trust is low# the weaker tie network still has an ability to provide non&
redundant information# while strong ties cannot. The third hypothesis infers that after
)S *+,- Theoretical Foundations of )nformation Systems 'esearch# Fall .//0 .
By Fon Sundaravej
controlling for competence and benevolence&based trust# it is a weaker tie# more so than a
stronger one# that leads to the receipt of useful knowledge. Finally# from the characteristic
of knowledge types# the authors speculate that competence&based trust is more important
to the receipt of useful knowledge when that knowledge is tacit than when it is e(plicit.
Because the tacit knowledge is difficult to articulate# people rely on an e(perienced
knowledge source.
)n summary# the initial model solely consists of the strong tie network that leads
to the receipt of useful knowledge. 7owever# the full model created by the authors adds a
link of competence and benevolence&based trust between strong ties and receipt of useful
knowledge. The competence&based trust is critical when the knowledge is highly tacit.
The association between strong ties and the receipt of useful knowledge disappears when
trust is controlled instead weak ties will emerge.
The survey is divided into two parts and generated to employees in three different
industries and countries via e&mail. The result of the study proves all hypotheses. From
this study# we learn that strong ties have a positive significance on the receipt of useful
knowledge. The benevolence and competence&based trust mediate the link between
strong ties and the perceived receipt of useful knowledge. 7owever# the positive effect of
strong ties on the receipt of useful knowledge disappears but the positive effect of weak
ties emerges once the two trusts are controlled. This finding allows us to discover the
hidden benefits of weak ties in the receipt of useful knowledge. As a result# the new
concept of trusted weak ties is introduced. 8hile benevolence&based trust enhances the
usefulness of both e(plicit and tacit knowledge e(change# competence&base trust has a
great impact on e(change of highly tacit knowledge.
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By Fon Sundaravej
)n conclusion# this study provides better understanding of how characteristics of
social network and trustworthiness make organi$ations more effective in transferring
knowledge. An awareness of above findings assists managers in making an investment in
an appropriate area that promotes different types of trusts# and suggests managers the
benefits gained from trusted weak ties# not just strong ties.
2:teva studii au cercetat un impact integrat de variabile structurale i rela ionale
la primirea de informa ii utile sau cuno tin e . Aceasta cercetare este efectuat pentru a
r;spunde la anchetele pe care re ea social; puternic; sau slab; <ntre solicitan ii de
cunoa tere i surse de cunoa tere ofer; mai multe cuno tin e utile i de ce i cumrolul
<ncredere percepute asocia$;tipul de cunoa tere transmis .
Studii anterioare privind transferul de cuno tin e sunt diferen iate <n trei categorii
" # rela ionale # i caracteristicile structurale cuno tin e . 'e ea social; sau caracteristici
structurale pot fi clasificate <n dou; grupe # care sunt leg;turi puternice i slabe . !uternic
cravata caracteri$ea$; o interac iune frecvent; <ntre un solicitant de cunoa tere i surs;
de cuno tin e # <n timp ce grupul de cravat; slab se refer; la persoanele care au o
interac iune frecvent; <ntre grupul lor . Studii anterioare demonstrea$; c; oamenii au
tendin a de a ob ine informa ii de la o persoan; cravat; puternic# care este accesibil i
dispus s; ajute . Acumularea de cuno tin e utile i non& redundant este # <ns; # un
beneficiu de la o persoan; cu leg;turi slabe . 2aracteristic; 'elational este definit ca
credibilitatea perceput; sau de calitatea persoanei de <ncredere# care face ca persoana care
se <ncrede dispus s; fie vulnerabil . Studii anterioare sus in c; rela ia de <ncredere duce la
o mai mare schimb de cuno tin e . =amenii sunt dispu i s; fac; schimb de resurse utile
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By Fon Sundaravej
atunci c:nd e(ist; <ncredere . >n acest conte(t # sunt identificate dou; tipuri de <ncredere "
<ncrederea binevoitoare # ba$ate pe <ncredere i competent # pe ba$; de
Bun;voin ; <ncredere sau motiva ie <ncredere face un solicitant de cunoa tere
dornici de a afla mai multe cuno tin e # chiar dac; el a c: tigat deja cuno tin e de la o
surs; de cunoa tere . >ncredere competen ; sau abilitate <ncredere influen ea$; un
solicitant de cuno tin e pentru a absorbi i de a face u$ de aceast; cunoa tere de la o
surs; de cuno tin e cu e(perien ; .
2aracteristic; cunoa tere se concentrea$; pe tipuri de cunoa tere # care sunt
transferate cuno tin e e(plicite i tacite . 2unoa terea e(plicit; este cunoscut sub numele
de cuno tin e care pot fi codificate i u or de <n eles # <n timp ce cuno tin ele tacite #
cum ar fi perspective detaliate # intui ii i credin e este dificil de a e(prima i de lent
pentru a transfera . Astfel # persoanele cu leg;turi str:nse ar trebui s; se asocie$e
proiectului se ocup; de cuno tin e tacite . >n schimb # o re ea de leg;turi slabe care
necesit; costuri mai mici pentru a men ine ar trebui s; c: tige un avantaj al proiectului
necesit; cuno tin e e(plicite .
>n plus # autorii propun propria lor caracteristic; de tipuri de integrate 5 structural #
rela ionale # i legate de cuno tin e 6 pentru a re$olva conclu$iile distincte pentru leg;turi
de re ea social; i de a de$volta rolul de <ncredere percepute <n c;utarea de cuno tin e i
transferul .
?e mai sus teorie clasificate cu privire la transferul de cuno tin e # autorii
formea$; patru ipote$e . Autorii presupun de caracteristica structural care leg;turi mai
puternice # deci mai mult dec:t cele mai slabe # duce la primirea de cuno tin e utile .
=amenii au tendin a de a avea <ncredere <n re eaua lor cravat; puternic # deoarece fiecare
)S *+,- Theoretical Foundations of )nformation Systems 'esearch# Fall .//0 0
By Fon Sundaravej
dintre ele este o e(perti$; <ntr&o anumit; $on; i au <n comun mod comun de g:nduri # de
comunicare # i obiective . Autorii # prin urmare # < i asum; de la caracteristica
rela ional; c; leg;tura dintre leg;turi str:nse i primirea de cuno tin e utile este mediat;
de <ncredere ba$ate pe bun;voin ; i <ncredere ba$at; pe competen e . 2u toate acestea #
atunci c:nd <ncrederea este sc;$ut; # re eaua cravata mai slab are <nc; capacitatea de a
furni$a informa ii non& redundante # <n timp ce leg;turi str:nse nu se poate .
A treia ipote$; deduce c; # dup; controlul de competen ; i de <ncredere ba$ate
pe bun;voin ; # aceasta este o cravat; mai slab # deci mai mult de unul mai puternic # care
conduce la primirea de cuno tin e utile . >n cele din urm; # de la caracteristica de tipuri
de cunoa tere # autorii speculea$a ca <ncrederea ba$at; pe competen e este mult mai
important pentru primirea de cuno tin e utile <n momentul <n care cunoa terea este tacit;
dec:t atunci c:nd este e(plicit . ?eoarece cuno tin ele tacite este dificil de a articula #
oamenii se ba$ea$; pe o surs; de cunoa tere cu e(perien ; .
!e scurt # modelul ini ial este format e(clusiv din re eaua de leg;tur; puternic;
care duce la primirea de cuno tin e utile . 2u toate acestea # modelul complet creat de
autorii adauga un link de competen ; i de <ncredere ba$ate pe bun;voin ; <ntre leg;turi
str:nse i primirea de cuno tin e utile . >ncrederea ba$at; pe competen ; este critic;
atunci c:nd cunoa terea este foarte tacit . Asocierea dintre leg;turi str:nse i primirea de
cuno tin e utile dispare atunci c:nd <ncrederea este controlat leg;turi slabe <n schimb va
ap;rea .
Studiul este <mp;r it <n dou; p;r i i a generat angaja ilor din trei industrii
diferite i ;ri prin e&mail . 'e$ultatul studiului demonstrea$; toate ipote$ele . ?in acest
studiu # afl;m c; leg;turi puternice au o semnifica ie po$itiv; cu privire la primirea de
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By Fon Sundaravej
cuno tin e utile . Bun;voin a i <ncrederea ba$at; pe competen e medie$e leg;tura dintre
leg;turi str:nse i primirea perceput de cuno tin e utile . 2u toate acestea # efectul
po$itiv de leg;turi puternice cu privire la primirea de cuno tin e utile dispare # dar efectul
po$itiv de leg;turi slabe apare o dat; cele dou; trusturi sunt controlate . Aceasta
constatare ne permite sa descoperi beneficiile ascunse de leg;turi slabe <n primirea de
cuno tin e utile . 2a re$ultat # se introduce noul concept de leg;turi slabe de <ncredere .
>n timp ce <ncrederea pe ba$; de bun;voin ; <mbun;t; e te utilitatea at:t e(plicite i
tacite schimbul de cuno tin e # <ncredere competen ; de ba$; are un impact mare asupra
schimbului de cuno tin e e(trem de tacite .
>n conclu$ie# acest studiu ofer; o mai bun; <n elegere a modului <n caracteristicile
de re ea social; i <ncredere face organi$a iile mai eficient <n transferul de cuno tin e. =
con tienti$are a constat;rilor de mai sus ajut; managerii <n a face o investi ie <ntr&o $on;
adecvat; care promovea$; diferite tipuri de trusturi# i sugerea$; managerii beneficiile
ob inute de leg;turi slabe de <ncredere# nu doar leg;turi puternice.
)S *+,- Theoretical Foundations of )nformation Systems 'esearch# Fall .//0 *