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Int. J.

Human-Computer Studies 69 (2011) 415–427


The influence of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation on individuals’

knowledge sharing behavior
Shin-Yuan Hunga, Alexandra Durcikovab,n, Hui-Min Laia,c, Wan-Mei Lina
Department of Information Management, National Chung Cheng University, Taiwan, ROC
Department of Management Information Systems, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85721, United States
Department of Information Management, Chienkuo Technology University, Taiwan, ROC
Received 28 August 2009; received in revised form 11 November 2010; accepted 16 February 2011
Communicated by P. Mulholland
Available online 24 February 2011


A major challenge in knowledge management involves motivating people to share knowledge with others. The objective of this study
is to deepen our understanding of how to influence an individual’s tendency to engage in knowledge sharing behavior in a team setting.
Specifically, we investigate the effects of intrinsic motivation (altruism) and extrinsic motivation (economic reward, reputation feedback
and reciprocity) on knowledge sharing (number of ideas generated, idea usefulness, idea creativity and meeting satisfaction) in a group
meeting. Results of our experiment show that a knowledge management system with built-in reputation feedback is crucial to support
successful knowledge sharing.
& 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Keywords: Knowledge sharing; Intrinsic motivation; Extrinsic motivation; Knowledge management systems; Experimental study

1. Introduction (Alavi and Leidner, 2001; Muller et al., 2005) that have been
shown to play a critical role in KM success (Alavi and
Knowledge management (KM) issues have increasingly Leidner, 2001; Bock and Kim, 2002; Davenport and Prusak,
captured the interest and attention of researchers and practi- 1998). However, researchers argue that there is a relative lack
tioners. Organizations implement KM initiatives with the of attention paid to understanding the link between motiva-
expectation that they will result in increased competitive tion and knowledge sharing behavior (Kalling and Styhre,
advantage (Alavi and Leidner, 2001; Bock and Kim, 2002; 2003). Therefore, one of the major challenges in KM involves
Jones, 2006; Parent et al., 2000; Tiwana, 2002). Previous motivating people to share their knowledge with others
research in KM has largely focused on understanding how while also making their contribution visible and concrete
existing knowledge should be gathered, organized, stored, and (Holthouse, 1998). Our study fills this gap in current literature.
shared within an organization (e.g., Markus, 2001). However, Davenport and Prusak (1998) have argued that people’s
creation of new knowledge (Nonaka and Takeuchi, 1995) that time, energy and knowledge are limited such that they
is supported by new cultural and work practices (Holthouse, eventually consider whether the value of their knowledge
1998) is an important factor of an organization’s competitive- contribution is rewarded. This reward can be extrinsic or
ness as it is a prerequisite for future strength (Krogh et al., intrinsic in nature (Benabou and Tirole, 2003; Ryan and
2000). In order to support knowledge creation and to opti- Deci, 2000). Because of this, organizations have developed a
mally structure its flow so that it is more visible (Holthouse, wide variety of KM practices that use incentives to build a
1998), employees have to engage in knowledge sharing culture of knowledge sharing. Prior research has highlighted
(Nonaka, 1994). Organizations have tried different motivators the importance of motivation on knowledge contribution
behavior (i.e., Kankanhalli et al., 2005; Wasko and Faraj,
Corresponding author. Tel.: +1 520 621 3927; fax: +1 520 621 2433. 2005); however, the results have been equivocal. For example,
E-mail address: alex@eller.arizona.edu (A. Durcikova). some research (Hall, 2001a, 2001b; Kankanhalli et al., 2005)

1071-5819/$ - see front matter & 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
416 S.-Y. Hung et al. / Int. J. Human-Computer Studies 69 (2011) 415–427

has found a positive relationship between the reward system moved to do something (Ryan and Deci, 2000). Since
and knowledge sharing; others have found a negative motivation is therefore a main concern of any manager, it
relationship (Bock and Kim, 2002; Bock et al., 2005). has been one of the most studied factors in KM (Bock et al.,
Findings are similar when it comes to economic rewards: 2005; Kankanhalli et al., 2005; Wasko and Faraj, 2005), and it
some suggest that economic rewards have a negative has been identified as a key determinant in information
impact on creativity (Amabile, 1985) while others find technology acceptance behavior (Davis et al., 1992; Lee
economic rewards irrelevant to an individual’s continued et al., 2005; Shang et al., 2005). People can be motivated
knowledge-contribution behaviors (He and Wei, 2008). either extrinsically or intrinsically. If a person is intrinsically
Results are also equivocal regarding reciprocity, as some motivated, he/she will engage in an action because it is
studies have suggested a positive relationship between reci- enjoyable and he/she finds it inherently interesting (Deci and
procity and knowledge contribution (Kankanhalli et al., 2005; Ryan, 1980). On the other hand, an extrinsically motivated
Wasko and Faraj, 2005), but other research has found individual’s actions are driven by a goal (Deci and Ryan,
different results (He and Wei, 2008; Wasko and Faraj, 2005). 1980). Research has shown that these two categories of
Because teams are often the fundamental social units of an motivation can lead to very different behavior and perfor-
organization’s knowledge creation, it has become important mance (Ryan and Deci, 2000).
to study knowledge sharing in team settings (Joshi et al., 2007; Prior research has shown that KM practices cannot
Parent et al., 2000). Additionally, knowledge sharing requires improve business performance simply by using IT to
collaboration between the seekers and contributors of knowl- capture and share lessons learned (Alavi and Leidner,
edge (Yang and Chen, 2008). Hence, team-based collaborative 2001; Cross and Baird, 2000; O’Dell and Grayson,
work can facilitate knowledge sharing (Tiwana, 2002). Teams 1998). Gold et al. (2001) found that it is an organization’s
can exchange knowledge synchronously and asynchronously. formal organizational structure and the incentive systems
When knowledge needs to be shared synchronously it often that make up its overall KM structure that support open
takes place in a meeting. The objective of this study is to sharing of valuable knowledge (Wood and Gray, 1991).
strengthen the understanding of how to influence an indivi- Therefore, we will focus on different theories that incor-
dual’s tendency to engage in knowledge sharing behavior in a porate extrinsic and intrinsic motivation to identify those
team setting. Specifically, we investigate the effects of intrinsic factors that have the highest impact on knowledge sharing.
motivation (altruism) and extrinsic motivation (economic Our literature review suggests that there are four such
reward, reputation feedback and reciprocity) on knowledge theories:
sharing behavior (measured through number of ideas gener-
ated, idea usefulness, idea creativity and meeting satisfaction) (1) Economic exchange theory—In the economic exchange
in a group meeting under experimental conditions within a theory (EET) perspective, each person’s behavior is
school context. To our knowledge, this is the first experimen- influenced by rational self-interest. When a person feels
tal study investigating these relationships. Because findings that the obtained rewards are more than the cost, she will
from previous studies have been inconclusive, we believe that share her knowledge (Constant et al., 1994; Kelley and
conducting a laboratory experiment can more definitively Thibaut, 1978). According to Karlsen and Gottschalk
clarify these relationships. The results of this study show that (2004), IT projects often fail because there are no
existence of a built-in reputation feedback mechanism is incentives to promote knowledge sharing. These incentives
necessary to support knowledge sharing. will not only influence user behavior but also users’
In Section 2, we briefly review four motivation theories for interactions with the system (Ba et al., 2001). This implies
knowledge sharing. In Section 3, we identify the proposed that people will expect to receive extrinsic benefits such as
motivation and framework for developing our hypotheses. monetary rewards, promotions, or educational opportu-
In Section 4, we describe our research method. Section 5 nities (Bock and Kim, 2002). In the context of this study,
discusses the results and their implications for practice and individuals’ knowledge sharing would depend on the
research. We close with conclusions. existence of monetary rewards.
(2) Knowledge market perspective—Davenport and Prusak
2. Extrinsic and intrinsic motivation (1998) used the knowledge market perspective (KMP)
to propose knowledge circulation. It consists of the one
Knowledge is a critical asset of an organization (Davenport who demands knowledge (the buyer), the one who
et al., 1998; Krogh et al., 2000; Nonaka, 1994). Frequently, provides knowledge (the seller), the broker who acts as
organizations use Information Technology (IT) in order the connecting thread between the buyer and seller,
to ensure that newly created knowledge is stored, transferred and the price mechanism. Instead of the price mechan-
and shared. One of the aims of IT is to establish knowledge ism that exists in real exchange markets, the price
repositories and connect communication networks (Alavi, mechanism here refers to the exchange rewards, which
2000), therefore playing a critical role in successful KM. include reputation, reciprocity and altruism. In the
Information system research has demonstrated the value of context of this study, individuals’ knowledge sharing
studying intrinsic and extrinsic motivation (e.g., Venkatesh, will depend on existence of reputation feedback and
1999). When an employee is motivated it means he/she is their level of reciprocity and altruism.
S.-Y. Hung et al. / Int. J. Human-Computer Studies 69 (2011) 415–427 417

(3) Social exchange theory—Social exchange theory (SET) 3. Research model and hypotheses
proposes that all human behavior involves benefit
maximization and cost minimization. SET posits having 3.1. Economic reward
relatively long-term relationships of interest in contrast to
a one-time exchange (Molm, 1997). The difference Money is the most obvious way for an organization to
between SET and EET is that there is no clear obligation reward its employee for suitable behavior. Carrillo et al.
to receive future benefits (Kankanhalli et al., 2005). (2004) surveyed UK construction organizations and found
During a social exchange, social and individual costs that most reward schemes in organizations were financially
and benefits can influence knowledge contribution. For based. In order to encourage knowledge contributors to
example, cost factors include the loss of knowledge share, the organization can provide different forms of
power and the codification effort, while the benefit economic rewards such as salary increases, bonuses, job
factors include organization reward, knowledge self- security, or promotions (Ba et al., 2001; Beer and Nohria,
efficacy and enjoyment in helping others (Kankanhalli 2000; Bock et al., 2005; He and Wei, 2008; Kankanhalli
et al., 2005). Therefore, the factors include both intrinsic et al., 2005). Results from recent empirical research also
and extrinsic benefits (Deci and Ryan, 1980; Vallerand, provide evidence that economic rewards significantly influence
1997). In the context of this study, an extrinsic benefit usage of electronic repositories by knowledge contributors
would be monetary reward for knowledge sharing (Beer (Davenport and Prusak, 1998; Kankanhalli et al., 2005).
and Nohria, 2000; Hall, 2001b) that can lead to a Thus, when individuals receive an economic reward for
comparatively better life (Kankanhalli et al., 2005). Other their knowledge, they will feel more motivated to share
extrinsic benefits would be reputation feedback that can knowledge, which will lead them to generate more unique,
lead to active participation (Donath, 1999) and recipro- useful, and creative ideas. They will feel that money is a
city, the expectation that an individual’s sharing efforts fair exchange for their knowledge sharing behavior (Bartol
will be reciprocated, thereby ensuring ongoing sharing and Srivastava, 2002; Hall, 2001b). Furthermore, as a
(Wasko and Faraj, 2005). The one intrinsic motivation is consequence of receiving money, an individual will experi-
altruism. Altruism is derived from the intrinsic enjoyment ence a higher level of satisfaction (Calder and Staw, 1975;
of helping others (Kankanhalli et al., 2005). Osterloh and Frey, 2000). This leads to the following
(4) Social capital theory—The social capital theory (SCT) hypotheses:
perspective recognizes that social capital can promote
Hypothesis 1a. Economic reward will positively influence
knowledge sharing among partners because they pos-
the number of ideas generated.
sess common values, enabling them to build mutual
trust. Several prior studies used SCT to understand Hypothesis 1b. Economic reward will positively influence
organizations’ knowledge creation and sharing process the usefulness of ideas generated.
(Nahapiet and Ghoshal, 1998; Tsai and Ghoshal, 1998;
Hypothesis 1c. Economic reward will positively influence
Wasko and Faraj, 2005). SCT argues that cooperation
the creativity of ideas generated.
and tacit understanding are formed over a long period
of time. This leads to the development of mutual trust Hypothesis 1d. Economic reward will increase the perceived
and establishment of long-term interpersonal relation- level of satisfaction with the meeting.
ships of reciprocity within and across groups. In the
context of our study, individuals will reciprocate 3.2. Reputation feedback
others’ effort to share knowledge by contributing more.
Reputation can help an individual to obtain and main-
tain his or her status within a community (Jones et al.,
The above literature review suggests that there are four 1997; Marett and Joshi, 2009) and prevent the retention of
key motivators affecting knowledge sharing: one intrinsic free riders who do not contribute to the team effort. In
motivator (altruism) and three extrinsic motivators (eco- open-source software projects, a good reputation is the
nomic reward, reputation feedback and reciprocity). This capital that drives the key contributors to make important
finding is consistent with the work of Davenport and changes (Stewart, 2005). Several studies suggest that
Prusak (1998, p. 31 and pp. 47–48) who argue that a people participate in KM practices because they believe
market price system for knowledge exchange exists within that they can establish and improve their individual
organizations. While the medium of exchange for knowl- reputation (Constant et al., 1996; Donath, 1999; Wasko
edge is rarely money, there are some agreed-upon curren- and Faraj, 2005) or earn peer recognition (Carrillo et al.,
cies that make this exchange happen. These agreed-upon 2004). As a result, when individuals feel that knowledge
currencies are reciprocity, reputation, and altruism. More- sharing can elevate their reputation, they will be more
over, Davenport and Prusak argue that monetary rewards inclined to share their knowledge (Ba et al., 2001; Daven-
are vital element in establishing the culture of knowledge port and Prusak, 1998; Wasko and Faraj, 2005). Reputa-
sharing (p. 48). Next, we discuss in detail how these four tion may also be related to social status: when the
motivators influence knowledge sharing. contributor’s status increases, the quality of his or her
418 S.-Y. Hung et al. / Int. J. Human-Computer Studies 69 (2011) 415–427

performance also increases (Stewart, 2005). Results from Hypothesis 3a. Reciprocity will positively influence the num-
recent empirical studies also confirmed that reputation ber of ideas generated.
feedback significantly affects the contributor’s volume and
Hypothesis 3b. Reciprocity will positively influence the useful-
helpfulness of contribution (Wasko and Faraj, 2005).
ness of ideas generated.
It follows from the arguments above that reputation
feedback positively affects an individual’s self esteem. Hypothesis 3c. Reciprocity will positively influence the crea-
Therefore, we hypothesize that the reputation feedback tivity of ideas generated.
mechanism will motivate an individual to perform better
Hypothesis 3d. Reciprocity will increase the perceived level
and he/she will then develop more unique ideas, more
of satisfaction with the meeting.
useful ideas, and more creative ideas. The presence of
reputation feedback will also positively influence an indi-
3.4. Altruism
vidual’s satisfaction with the team meeting, as her/his
effort to share knowledge will be publicly acknowledged.
Altruism can be seen as a form of unconditional kindness
This leads to the following hypotheses:
without the expectation of a return (Fehr and Gachter, 2000)
Hypothesis 2a. Reputation feedback will positively influence where an individual provides help and achieves a sense of
the number of ideas generated. satisfaction from the action (Kollock, 1999). In many cases,
individuals help others whether or not they get anything in
Hypothesis 2b. Reputation feedback will positively influence return (Davenport and Prusak, 1998). Constant et al. (1994)
the usefulness of ideas generated. suggested that people who share tangible information may
do so due to pro-social attitudes. Wasko and Faraj (2000,
Hypothesis 2c. Reputation feedback will positively influence 2005) pointed out that these individuals are motivated
the creativity of ideas generated. intrinsically to contribute knowledge to others because they
Hypothesis 2d. Reputation feedback will increase the per- enjoy helping others. Results from recent empirical studies
ceived level of satisfaction with the meeting. have also confirmed the positive relationship between altru-
ism and knowledge contribution. For instance, Kankanhalli
et al. (2005) found that altruism significantly affects electronic
3.3. Reciprocity
repository usage by knowledge contributors and it also
significantly increases the helpfulness of the contribution.
In order to contribute knowledge, individuals must
This is further supported by He and Wei (2008), who suggest
believe that their contribution is worth the effort. Accord-
that knowledge workers contribute knowledge to the KMS
ing to Davenport and Prusak (1998), people’s time, energy
because of their enjoyment in helping others.
and knowledge are limited. Therefore, except when profit-
Therefore, we propose that in a team environment
able, people are usually unwilling to share these scarce
people with greater altruism will contribute more unique
resources with others. Reciprocity is a form of conditional
ideas, propose more useful ideas, generate more creative
gain; that is, people expect future benefits from their
ideas and also have a higher satisfaction with the meeting.
present actions. This means that a behavior is done in
This leads to the following hypotheses:
response to previous friendly actions (Fehr and Gachter,
2000). Many studies have carried out detailed analyses of Hypothesis 4a. Altruism will positively influence the num-
reciprocity and found that it can be beneficial to knowl- ber of ideas generated.
edge contributors because they anticipate future help from
Hypothesis 4b. Altruism will positively influence the use-
other people (Connolly and Thorn, 1999; Kollock, 1999).
fulness of ideas generated.
The norm of reciprocity (Gouldner, 1960) makes two
minimal demands: (1) people should help those who have Hypothesis 4c. Altruism will positively influence the crea-
helped them, and (2) people should not harm those who have tivity of ideas generated.
helped them. In a team environment, people who anticipate
Hypothesis 4d. Altruism will increase the perceived level of
and are more willing to share their good ideas also expect
satisfaction with the meeting.
others to respond to their ideas and generate new ideas.
Fehr and Gachter (2000) pointed out that one of the most The above research model is shown in Fig. 1.
important consequences of reciprocity is the power to enhance
collective actions and enforce social norms. Research has 4. Research methodology
revealed that reciprocity, a deeply held human behavioral trait
(Schultz, 2006, Heineck and Anger, 2010), significantly affects 4.1. Research design
how much an individual contributes (Bock et al., 2005;
Wasko and Faraj, 2005). Thus, people who expect reciprocity We conducted a laboratory experiment in order to test
will share more ideas, their ideas will be more useful and the hypotheses delineated in the previous sections. Experi-
creative, and their satisfaction with the meeting will be higher. mentation as a research method allowed us to manipulate
This leads to the following hypotheses: economic rewards and reputation feedback in a systematic
S.-Y. Hung et al. / Int. J. Human-Computer Studies 69 (2011) 415–427 419

Extrinsic Motivation

Economic Reward H1
Outcome of Knowledge Sharing

Reputation Feedback H2 Number of Ideas

Reciprocity H3 Idea Usefulness

Idea Creativity
Intrinsic Motivation H4
Meeting Satisfaction

Fig. 1. Research model.

fashion, as well as control extraneous variables more average and an additional $7 (US) was awarded to those who
effectively. Furthermore, this method makes it possible performed best. Subjects were informed about this economic
to replicate experiments using different subject groups and reward in advance. The level of monetary reward would be
conditions that will eventually lead to the discovery of an attractive to these student subjects according to the results of
average effect of independent variables across people, prior similar studies (Chen et al., 2007; Hall et al., 2007;
situations and time (Emory and Cooper, 1991). This type of Quigley et al., 2007).
experimentation has been successful in small group interac-
tions (Babbie, 2004). Moreover, one extrinsic and one intrinsic 4.3. Tasks
factor which cannot be manipulated, reciprocity and altruism,
were measured in the post-experiment session. This study McGrath (1984) classified group tasks into four major
represents a 2  2 factorial design (with/without economic categories: generate (e.g., generate creativity ideas), choose
reward  with/without reputation feedback) that assessed the (e.g., choosing solutions), negotiate (e.g., negotiating conflicts)
motivation for knowledge sharing behavior. and execute (e.g., performing tasks). The generation task was
Reputation feedback was reported to each participant chosen for this experiment as it is the most suitable for
regarding his/her creative tasks. The facilitator counted the knowledge sharing. Two tasks that had been previously tested
number of unique ideas and rank-ordered the team and validated were used in the study (Parent et al., 2000).
members from the most productive to the least productive. Since the experiment results are likely to be influenced by the
This feedback was provided every 7 min. The same facil- degree of familiarity with certain tasks and systems, our
itator was used in all experiments. subjects were first requested to accomplish a practice task. At
the completion of the practice task, the subjects were asked to
4.2. Subjects complete the experimental task. The first task, the practice
task, was to identify which features the new university library
A total of 140 upper division undergraduate and MBA should have. The second task, the experimental task, was to
students from a university in Taiwan volunteered to partici- describe how tourism could be improved in the local area.
pate in the study. In a pilot study, 20 subjects were recruited The two tasks are described in Appendix A.
into four groups to test and fine-tune the questionnaire and
experimental manipulations and procedures. In addition, a 4.4. Experimental system
total of 120 subjects volunteered for the actual experiments.
After reading and signing a consent form, subjects completed A web-based group support system using JAVA tech-
a pre-session survey that gathered some background data. nology was developed to support a number of functions
Subjects were then randomly assigned to a five-person group. that occur in team meetings: brainstorming, organizing
There were 24 groups, 6 groups in each treatment, and 5 information, list building, information gathering, prioritiz-
participants in each group. Five-person groups were used, as ing, consensus building, and the best choice building.
this size was found to be optimal for brainstorming (Osborn, Several tools provided by GroupSystems, a group support
1953; Slater, 1958; Stewart, 2005). Participants were randomly system developed originally at the University of Arizona,
assigned to groups, and groups were randomly assigned were used. To support the generation task, the system
to different treatments. No significant differences between provided: (1) an electronic brainstorming tool; (2) an issue
subjects existed across the four experimental treatments in analyzer; and (3) a ranking/voting tool. The electronic
terms of their gender or age. Each participant was awarded $3 brainstorming tool is an idea-generation tool that allows
(US) for participation. Moreover, additional incentives were participants to input their ideas anonymously and freely.
provided for the groups receiving an economic reward. Cash The issue analyzer is then used for the identification and
bonuses $2 (US) were awarded to those who performed above consolidation of issues generated during electronic
420 S.-Y. Hung et al. / Int. J. Human-Computer Studies 69 (2011) 415–427

brainstorming sessions. The ranking/voting tool allows were with the sharing process. This was measured by the
participants to privately rank order their choices and vote participants’ outcomes of knowledge sharing, which included
on the list of issues generated by the issue analyzer. knowledge quantity (number of ideas), knowledge quality
The group support system ran in a Microsoft Windows (idea usefulness and idea creativity) and perceived meeting
environment on a local area network. Participants were satisfaction. Table 1 summarizes the measures of dependent
seated around a U-shaped table in a computer lab and variables.
were supplied with a networked computer and keyboard.
4.5.3. Control variables
4.5. Variables and measures A number of control variables, such as group size, task
type, and some contextual factors, were fixed. In this study,
4.5.1. Independent variables the group size was controlled to five people per group.
The two extrinsic motivators, economic reward and reputa- All groups had to solve the same task. All experiments had
tion feedback, were manipulated, whereas one extrinsic and the same facilitator. Since group members were randomly
one intrinsic motivator, reciprocity and altruism, were mea- assigned to treatments, it was assured that several other
sured. The experiment was thus designed to assess the factors (e.g., group history and individual characteristics)
willingness of individuals to contribute ideas under two known to influence the measures were also controlled for.
conditions: (1) reciprocity—a deeply held human behavioral
trait (Schultz, 2006; Heineck and Anger, 2010), defined as the 4.6. Experimental procedures
belief that current contributions to group meetings would lead
to future requests for knowledge to be met in order to obtain The experiment was comprised of seven steps:
mutual benefit through knowledge sharing (Davenport and
Prusak, 1998; Kankanhalli et al., 2005); (2) altruism—defined  Step 1—Subjects were randomly assigned to a five-
as the perception of pleasure obtained from helping others person group. There were 24 groups. Subjects began
through knowledge shared in a group meeting without with a 10 min hands-on introduction to this system.
expecting anything in return (Kankanhalli et al., 2005; Wasko  Step 2—Each group member was given additional
and Faraj, 2000). At the end of the experiment, the subjects 10 min to perform the practice task and to get to know
rated themselves on reciprocity and altruism. The reciprocity the system.
and altruism constructs are shown in Appendix B.  Step 3—The experimental task was explained to the
subjects (5 min).
4.5.2. Dependent variables  Step 4—Subjects were then given 20 min to brainstorm ideas.
Knowledge sharing behavior is defined as the degree to The system enabled group members to comment on options,
which an individual conducts knowledge sharing activities in a ask questions, comment on other members’ comments, watch
group meeting (Davenport and Prusak, 1998). In this study, other members’ options, and so on. Participants typed in their
the dependent variables showed how well the subjects responses and the system would immediately make these ideas
performed in the idea generation task and how satisfied they available for other subjects to read on their screens.

Table 1
Measures of dependent variables.

Variables Measure Operationalization Source

Number of ideas Each idea was recorded by the group support system and The number of ideas generated by each participant Easton et al.
generated then independently judged by two tourism experts. The after eliminating duplicate and irrelevant ones (2003)
third judge would join the discussion to reach consensus if
any conflict cannot be resolved between two judgesa
Idea usefulness Each of the three tourism experts reported one item on a Each participant was independently assessed by Wasko and Faraj
four-point Likert scale (4—very helpful; 1—not helpful) three tourism experts to indicate his/her idea (2005)
and were averaged as a usefulness ratingb usefulness. The average usefulness score for each
participant was calculated thereafter
Idea creativity Each of three tourism experts reported two items Each participant was independently assessed by Hender et al.
(originality and paradigm relatedness) on a seven-point three tourism experts to evaluate his/her idea (2002)
Likert scale). The scores were averaged as a creativity originality and idea paradigm relatedness scores.
ratingc The average creativity score for each participant was
calculated thereafter
Perceived meeting Five self-reported items. Each item used a seven-point Participant’s satisfaction with the meeting process Green and Taber
satisfaction Likert scale. The questionnaire is attached in Appendix B (1980)
Raters were unaware of the hypotheses.
The inter-rater reliability for all three judges was 0.94.
The inter-rater reliabilities of idea originality and idea paradigm relatedness for all three judges were 0.90 and 0.88, respectively.
S.-Y. Hung et al. / Int. J. Human-Computer Studies 69 (2011) 415–427 421

 Step 5—Subjects were then asked to discuss why the Table 3

ideas were appropriate for the task (5 min). Results of factor analysis.
 Step 6—Following a two-round voting procedure, sub- Scale items Reciprocity Altruism Satisfaction
jects selected three ideas and assigned weights reflecting
the relative importance of the selected ideas (5 min). In Reciprocity 1 0.614 0.292 0.203
this phase, subjects were voting on the best ideas. Reciprocity 2 0.866 0.167 0.121
Reciprocity 3 0.754 0.244 0.198
 Step 7—Subjects were asked to complete the post-
Altruism 1 0.169 0.839 0.267
experiment questionnaires. Data collected during this Altruism 2 0.215 0.863 0.214
phase included the demographic data, manipulation Altruism 3 0.311 0.837 0.029
check, reciprocity, and altruism, as well as perceived Altruism 4 0.175 0.847 0.138
meeting satisfaction. Satisfaction 1 0.156 0.064 0.758
Satisfaction 2 0.143 0.112 0.742
Satisfaction 3 0.207 0.097 0.735
5. Results Satisfaction 4 0.072 0.134 0.782
Satisfaction 5 0.089 0.299 0.799
5.1. Profiles of the participants

A total of 118 (out of 120) usable responses were used in observed indicator on its latent construct exceed 0.60 and the
the analysis. The sample consisted of 62 males (53%) and average variances extracted (AVEs) of these three constructs
56 females (47%) with an average age of 23. Most of the are larger than 0.5, therefore good convergent validity was
subjects (82.2%) had taken at least one course on compu- demonstrated (Anderson and Gerbing, 1988). Additionally,
ters. All subjects used computers frequently and most of in terms of discriminant validity, all the AVE values of the
them (98.3%) were very efficient at typing. Most subjects three constructs exceeded the squared correlation coefficients
(93.2%) had experience working in teams. between the constructs (see Table 2) demonstrating good
discriminant validity (Fornell and Larcker, 1981).
5.2. Data reliability and validity
5.3. Experimental findings
The constructs were assessed for their reliability and
validity. Internal consistency for all constructs was inves- Prior to testing our model, we performed manipulation
tigated using Cronbach’s alpha. The results in Table 2 checks. The t-test results indicate that the manipulation
show that the reliability of the three constructs ranged was successful for both factors: specifically, for economic
from 0.72 to 0.91, which exceeds the recommended value reward the means for the two groups were 4.75 and 1.85
of 0.70 (Nunnally, 1978). (t =8.905, p = 0.000) and for reputation feedback the
To ensure content validity, previously validated measure- means were 4.20 and 2.55 (t =3.735, p = 0.001).
ments were used. Furthermore, the final questionnaire was To understand the effects of motivational factors on
validated by three professionals to ensure that no syntax or knowledge sharing, Multivariate Analysis of Variance
semantic biases occurred during the translation from English (MANOVA) with four categorical independent variables
to Chinese. The questionnaire was then translated back to (economic reward, reputation feedback, reciprocity, and
English to ensure that proper translation of all the items altruism) and four continuous dependent variables (number
occurred. Finally, the pilot study with 20 subjects revealed no of ideas, idea usefulness, idea creativity, and meeting satis-
problems with the questionnaire design. faction) was performed. Subjects were assigned to high and
In order to assess construct validity, principal component low levels of reciprocity and altruism based on median split.
with varimax rotation was performed. The Kaiser–Meyer– The results of the MANOVA are summarized in Table 4.
Olkin (KMO) index of sampling adequacy was 0.845, Z-skewness/Z-kurtosis and Levene’s tests were used to
confirming the appropriateness of the analysis. Three factors test normality and variance homogeneity. Z-skewness/
were extracted that cumulatively explained 69.3% of the Z-kurtosis test results demonstrate that all the Z-values
variance; these are shown in Table 3. All the loadings of each ranged between 2.58 and 2.58, implying that the present
data meet the normality assumption. The F-values of the
Table 2 Levene’s test are 1.239 (p= 0.229; for number of ideas
Results of reliability analysis. generated), 0.409 (p = 0.747; for idea usefulness), 0.232
(p = 0.874; for idea creativity), and 1.428 (p= 0.239; for
Number Cronbach’s Reciprocity Altruism Satisfaction
meeting satisfaction), respectively, indicating that no
of items alpha
statistically significant differences exist among the variances
Reciprocity 3 0.72 0.637 of different groups. The correlation of the dependent
Altruism 4 0.91 0.614 0.825 measures was tested by Bartlett’s test of sphericity. The
Satisfaction 5 0.85 0.442 0.429 0.725 p-value was below 0.001, satisfying the requirements of
The bold numbers in the diagonal row are square roots of the average intercorrelation for MANOVA (Hair et al., 1995). Thus,
variances extracted (AVE). MANOVA was appropriate.
422 S.-Y. Hung et al. / Int. J. Human-Computer Studies 69 (2011) 415–427

Table 4 significant (p=0.578, 0.287, and 0.500, respectively). Hence,

Results of the MANOVA analysis. hypotheses H4a, H4b and H4c are rejected. Yet altruism
Source SS DF F-value Significance
significantly increases meeting satisfaction (mean/st.dev were
4.99/1.04 and 4.20/0.83). Consequently, hypothesis H4d is
Number of ideas generated supported (po0.05).
Economic reward 2.523 1 0.211 0.647 The above results demonstrate an interesting phenom-
Reputation feedback 589.539 1 49.222 0.000nnn
enon that economic reward, reciprocity, and altruism
Reciprocity 4.399 1 0.367 0.546
Altruism 3.728 1 0.311 0.578 affect meeting satisfaction, but show no significant effects
on number of ideas generated, idea usefulness, and idea
Idea usefulness
creativity. Furthermore, reputation feedback has an effect
Economic reward 0.530 1 1.264 0.263
Reputation feedback 10.471 1 24.976 0.000nnn on the number of ideas generated, idea usefulness, and idea
Reciprocity 0.034 1 0.081 0.777 creativity, but no significant effects on meeting satisfac-
Altruism 0.480 1 1.146 0.287 tion. The discussion of these findings follows.
Idea creativity
Economic reward 0.113 1 0.022 0.881 6. Discussion
Reputation feedback 95.294 1 18.970 0.000nnn
Reciprocity 0.328 1 0.065 0.799 6.1. Implications for research
Altruism 2.300 1 0.458 0.500

Meeting satisfaction Perhaps the most interesting finding of this research is that
Economic reward 4.408 1 5.526 0.020nn economic incentives did not achieve the desired outcome of
Reputation feedback 0.235 1 0.294 0.589
increased knowledge sharing. Instead, reputation feedback
Reciprocity 4.078 1 5.113 0.026nn
Altruism 8.022 1 10.057 0.002nn had the most significant effect on all measures of knowledge
sharing. The goal of this research was to understand the role
po 0.05. that intrinsic and extrinsic motivation play in knowledge
sharing behavior, as the results of previous studies conflicted.
To address this gap in the literature we conducted an
Results show that the effect of economic reward on number experiment that investigated the effects of altruism (intrinsic
of ideas generated, idea usefulness, and idea creativity are not motivation) and economic reward, reputation feedback and
statistically significant at the 0.05 level (p=0.647, 0.263, and reciprocity (extrinsic motivation) on knowledge quantity,
0.881, respectively). Consequently, hypotheses H1a, H1b and quality (idea usefulness and idea creativity) and satisfaction
H1c are rejected. However, subjects receiving an economic with a meeting (because the knowledge was exchanged
reward are more satisfied with the meeting than subjects synchronously). When discussing the results of this study
without it (mean/st.dev were 4.7/0.96 and 4.33/1.00). Conse- we compare our findings with three recently published studies
quently, hypothesis H1d is supported (po0.05). Economic on knowledge sharing (see Table 5).
rewards make the meeting more enjoyable but do not promote
knowledge sharing. 6.1.1. Economic reward effects
The effect of reputation feedback on number of ideas The first extrinsic motivational factor studied was
generated, idea usefulness, and idea creativity are statisti- economic reward, a concept adopted from EET, KMP
cally significant (p = 0.000 for all). Providing reputation and SET. According to these theories, an individual’s
feedback can stimulate subjects to generate more unique decision to share knowledge is affected by the presence
ideas (mean/st.dev were 11.21/3.86 and 6.55/2.95), generate of an economic reward. In our study, the provision of an
more useful ideas (mean/st.dev were 2.67/0.60 and 2.08/ economic reward significantly affected only satisfaction
0.69), and generate more creative ideas (mean/st.dev were with a meeting but had no effect on the quantity and
6.82/2.10 and 5.03/2.32). Consequently, hypotheses H2a, quality of contribution that are of foremost interest in any
H2b and H2c are supported. However, the effect of KM project. Our result is consistent with Bock et al. (2005)
reputation feedback on meeting satisfaction is not statis- who showed that providing an economic reward did not
tically significant (p =0.589). Consequently, hypothesis improve the user’s attitude toward knowledge sharing.
H2d is rejected. However, Kankanhalli et al. (2005) found that organiza-
The effect of reciprocity on number of ideas generated, tional rewards can increase users knowledge contribution
idea usefulness, and idea creativity is not statistically through Electronic Knowledge Repository (EKR). The
significant (p= 0.546, 0.777, and 0.799, respectively). Con- explanation of this result is attributable to two factors.
sequently, hypotheses H3a, H3b and H3c are rejected. First, Kankanhalli et al. (2005) suggested that the influence
However, high reciprocity significantly increases the meet- of organizational reward on knowledge contribution may
ing satisfaction (mean/st.dev were 4.91/1.09 and 4.27/0.85). be constrained by the contributor’s organizational identi-
Consequently, hypothesis H3d is supported (po 0.05). fication. If the knowledge contributor has more in com-
Finally, the effect of altruism on number of ideas gener- mon with the organization, the contributor will be more
ated, idea usefulness, and idea creativity is not statistically likely to receive other rewards from the organization. The
S.-Y. Hung et al. / Int. J. Human-Computer Studies 69 (2011) 415–427 423

Table 5
Comparison of this study and three recent studies.

Method KMS Sample Dependent Economic Reputation Reciprocity Altruism

variable reward feedback

Kankanhalli Survey Electronic 150 respondents EKR usage by Significant N/A N/A Significant
et al. (2005) knowledge from 10 knowledge
repository organizations in contributors
Wasko and Survey Electronic 173 responses Helpfulness of N/A Significant Insignificant Significant on
Faraj (2005) network of from a national contribution helpfulness of
practice legal professional contribution
association in (po0.1)
Volume of Significant Significant Insignificant
Bock et al. Survey No specific 154 responses Intention to Extrinsic N/A Significant N/A
(2005) KMS. from 27 share reward has a
(Executives organizations knowledge negative effect
enrolled in the across 16 on attitude
CKO program industries in toward
offer by a Korea knowledge
university) sharing
(p o0.1)
This study Laboratory Group support 118 participants Number of Insignificant Significant Insignificant Insignificant
experiment system from a university ideas generated
in Taiwan
Idea usefulness Insignificant Significant Insignificant Insignificant
Idea creativity Insignificant Significant Insignificant Insignificant
Meeting Significant Insignificant Significant Significant

experimental groups were temporary groups and therefore and SET. Reputation mechanisms, such as eBay’s Feed-
group identification could not be established within the back Forum, are widely used in practice. Our results
timeframe of the experiment. Consequently, economic indicate that reputation feedback has a significant effect
rewards were not a strong enough factor to be influential in on both the quantity and quality of contributions, but does
motivating knowledge sharing. Second, Bock and Kim (2002) not have a significant effect on perceived meeting satisfac-
noted that the extrinsic reward is only a trigger for the sharing tion. This is consistent with Wasko and Faraj (2005), who
of knowledge; it does not change the contributor’s attitude found that reputation feedback can increase both the
towards knowledge sharing. Without creation of personal helpfulness of contributions and the number of contribu-
commitment, economic reward only supports knowledge tions, and with Marett and Joshi (2009), who pointed out
sharing for a short period of time. Hence, an economic that reputation improvement and status-building within
reward is only a weak reinforcement in the short term the community are motivation factors for sharing rumors.
that enhances employees’ compliance with knowledge sharing Helping individuals build expertise and providing recogni-
practices at the beginning of a project, but may hinder later tion may itself encourage knowledge sharing (O’Dell and
knowledge sharing (Benabou and Tirole, 2003). In addition, Grayson, 1998).
a previous study by Bartol and Srivastava (2002) also Appropriate feedback would allow people to understand
indicated that monetary rewards may be less useful in that sharing their knowledge helps others. That, in turn,
communities of practice. Therefore the non-existence of would increase their sense of self-worth (Bock et al., 2005)
organizational commitment in our experiment supports the and peer recognition (Sheehan, 2000) . In addition, Wasko
findings of Bock and Kim (2002) and suggests that con- and Faraj (2000) found that when knowledge is owned by
tributors will be satisfied with the participation because there individuals, people participate primarily out of reputation,
is a short-term benefit. However, the knowledge sharing status and obligation. The reputation mechanism in this
outcome, the focus of KM strategies, will not be helped as study provided the participants information regarding the
economic rewards do not increase the quantity or quality of number of unique ideas generated by everyone. A partici-
knowledge contributions. pant may feel honored that he/she created a high number
of ideas. Those who fall behind can be stimulated by this
6.1.2. Reputation feedback effects mechanism to get back on track. However, ranking may
The second extrinsic motivational factor in our study cause some participants to feel pressured and therefore be
was reputation feedback, a concept adopted from KMP dissatisfied with this approach to knowledge sharing.
424 S.-Y. Hung et al. / Int. J. Human-Computer Studies 69 (2011) 415–427

6.1.3. Reciprocity effects 6.1.5. Implications for practitioners

The third extrinsic motivational factor in our study was This research has several implications for practitioners,
reciprocity, a concept adopted from KMP, SET and SCT. both KMS software developers and managers. The impor-
Reciprocity denotes that when people share their knowl- tance of the alignment of information system design with
edge they expect to be compensated with equally valuable incentives has recently been recognized (Ba et al., 2001). In
knowledge. Our results (see Table 4) indicate that recipro- this study, we used economic reward and reputation
city does not have a significant effect on the quantity or feedback as extrinsic incentives that were aligned with
quality of contributions. However, reciprocity has a the goal of higher quantity and quality of knowledge
significant positive effect on meeting satisfaction. Previous sharing. Our study indicates that KMS software devel-
research has found that reciprocity is positively related to opers should incorporate a built-in reputation feedback to
intention to share knowledge (Bock et al., 2005) and the KMS due to the strong influence of reputation feed-
quantity of contribution (Wasko and Faraj, 2005); back on both quantity and quality of knowledge shared.
however, it had no effect on the quality of contributions First, the quantity of the contributions can be implemented
(Wasko and Faraj, 2005). Three reasons can explain this as a system feature and therefore would not require more
inconsistency. First, the correlation between intention and human capital investment. Second, implementation of a
behavior is approximately 0.5 (Sheppard et al., 1988) and ranking mechanism for quality of contributions would
therefore reciprocity can positively affect intention and in require both system and personal changes. An interface in
some cases also quantity of contribution. However, not all the KMS would need to be created that allows idea quality
contributions can be of high quality. Second, previous studies ranking. Then, managers need to assign an employee to the
on motivational factors discussed reciprocity that is mostly role of a moderator who, like the facilitator in our
long-term in influence, such as in an online community experiment, would rate the quality of the contributions.
(Wasko and Faraj, 2000) or knowledge repository usage Third, managers should realize that traditional individual
(Kankanhalli et al., 2005). Fehr and Gachter (2000) noted performance-based economic reward has no significant
that reciprocity is deeply embedded in social interactions. influence on knowledge sharing in group settings and it
Due to time and cost limitations, this experiment was can sometimes be seen as demeaning (Bock et al., 2008;
conducted only once. Therefore, future research should O’Dell and Grayson, 1998). Thus, for a company manager
examine ‘‘long-term reciprocity’’. Finally, the group meetings who wants to increase knowledge sharing, using solely
represent network-based interactions rather than dyadic individual based economic rewards may be an ineffective
interactions and therefore direct reciprocity is not necessary method. However, as previous research indicated, eco-
to sustain collective action (Wasko and Faraj, 2000). nomic rewards may serve the purpose of stimulating
When a member proposes an idea in the group meeting participation at the beginning of a project, however, over
environment, others quickly respond to this idea. This fast the long term, they may have negative impact (Benabou
exchange of ideas can lead to fast problem solving and in and Tirole, 2003). This is because individual performance-
turn is very satisfying for those who care about reciprocity. based economic rewards could create a tournament-like
atmosphere (Taylor, 2006) and trigger competition among
people who were expected to closely collaborate (Bock
6.1.4. Altruism effects et al., 2008). A viable alternative would be using group-
The intrinsic motivational factor in our study was altruism, based economic rewards that has been shown to outper-
a concept adopted from KMP and SET. Altruism can be seen form individual based economic reward in group setting
as unconditional kindness without the expectation of a (Taylor, 2006). Finally, while altruism improves meeting
reward. The reward is usually a good feeling about helping satisfaction, the results show that it does not promote
others out. The results of this study indicate that altruism had knowledge sharing. Taylor (2006) suggests that to aid
a positive impact on meeting satisfaction but it did not have knowledge sharing, high levels of both altruism and knowl-
significant effects on either the quantity or quality of edge of the subject may be necessary. Thus, when knowl-
contributions. This finding is consistent with Taylor’s (2006) edge sharing is considered an important part of the job, it is
viewpoint that altruistic motivation may be insufficient to aid vital to hire employees that are both knowledge content
knowledge sharing. This factor remains the most puzzling out experts and altruistic.
of the four investigated as it has been shown in the past to
affect (He and Wei, 2008; Kankanhalli et al., 2005) and not 6.1.6. Suggestions for future research
affect quantity of contribution (Wasko and Faraj, 2005) and As with any empirical research, limitations of the
positively affect quality of contribution (Wasko and Faraj, present study should be recognized. The experimental
2005). Given that the reward for an altruistic person can come context of this study, while allowing for precise control
as a good feeling about his/her action, this might have been of factors without any extraneous influence and confound-
captured by the sense of satisfaction with the meeting or ing factors, may decrease the applicability of the findings
fulfillment of duty in helping to brainstorm ideas about how to real-world KMS scenarios. We have attempted to
to increase tourism in the local area. This is why satisfaction minimize this inherent limitation of an experimental study
with the meeting was significantly affected by altruism. by using a web-based group support system that any
S.-Y. Hung et al. / Int. J. Human-Computer Studies 69 (2011) 415–427 425

organization can utilize for idea generation. Additionally, motivation such as economic reward may not be an adequate
using students as participants may limit the generalizability motivator of knowledge sharing. However, economic reward,
of our results to the rest of the population. However, we together with reciprocity and altruism, positively influence
were controlling for this limitation by selecting a task that meeting satisfaction. The most important finding of this
did not require knowledge of a specific subject matter and study is that reputation feedback served as a strong incentive
students appeared to participate satisfactorily during their for both quantity and quality of knowledge shared. Several
task. Finally, reputation feedback was provided by one other studies have used these motivators previously, however
facilitator for each group. It is possible that another the results were equivocal. This study contributes to theory
facilitator would rate reputation differently. However, and practice in three ways: first, it uses fours theories to select
given that this facilitator provided feedback to all groups, three extrinsic motivators and one intrinsic motivator to
the potential bias was uniform across all groups. In understand their effects on individuals’ knowledge sharing
conclusion, despite the potential limitations this research behavior; second, a controlled experiment is performed to
makes some important contributions to both research and test the derived hypotheses; third, it measures actual knowl-
practice. Other studies using different research methods are edge sharing (both quantity and quality of knowledge) in a
needed to gain a thorough understanding of knowledge team setting.
sharing in group settings.
Several suggestions for future research stem from this Appendix A. Task description
experiment. First, we examined only one intrinsic motivation
– altruism – in this study. However, there are other intrinsic 1. Practice task: What functions and features should a new
motivations such as knowledge self-efficacy and collaboration university library have?
norms (Bock et al., 2006) that have been shown to influence The university you are attending is planning to build
not only the behavior of those actively contributing informa- a new library. The planning committee is looking for
tion but also lurkers (Marett and Joshi, 2009). Several theories opinions or ideas from students on what functions and
also suggest that social influence is crucial in shaping user features a new university library should have. Please
behavior. For instance, social capital theory noted that group provide as many useful ideas as you can.
members tend to contribute due to norms, trust, obligations 2. Experimental task: How could tourism be improved in
and identification (Nahapiet and Ghoshal, 1998). Therefore, the local area?
running this experiment over a longer period of time could The Chiayi County Government has been promoting a
lead to a better understanding of intrinsic motivation in program which can encourage the tourism industry in
knowledge sharing. Also, theory of conformity (Bernheim, Chiayi County. The County Government is looking for
1994) suggests that groups tend to comply with the group opinions or ideas from student groups on how to improve
norm and this in turn influences knowledge sharing behavior. tourism. Please provide as many useful ideas to improve
The effects of these motivations should be examined in future the tourism industry in Chiayi County as you can.
research. Second, although our experiment is conducted in
groups, our reward structure was individually oriented.
Future studies should consider team-based rewards that have Appendix B. Post-experiment questionnaire
been shown to foster cooperation and encourage knowledge
sharing by individuals within teams (Bartol and Srivastava, Manipulation check for economic reward:
2002). Third, knowledge can be viewed from different
perspectives, such as object, knowledge embedded in indivi- 1. I will receive a financial reward for performing well on
duals, and knowledge embedded in a community. The this task. (using a Likert scale; where 1 =strongly
motivators for knowledge exchange of these different types disagree, 5= strongly agree)
of knowledge are different (Wasko and Faraj, 2000). In our
study, knowledge was viewed as an individual asset; however
future studies should investigate it from the other two Manipulation check for reputation feedback:
perspectives. Finally, Constant et al. (1996) pointed out that
individuals with higher expertise were more likely to share 1. Others were aware of the quality of my performance on
useful knowledge. Our experiment focused on novices rather this task. (using a Likert scale; where 1=strongly disagree,
than experts in the area of tourism. Therefore, future research 5=strongly agree)
should examine whether higher expertise would lead to more
and better quality contributions.
Reciprocity (Source: Kankanhalli et al., 2005) was
7. Conclusion measured using a Likert scale; where 1 = strongly disagree,
7= strongly agree
The study aims to explicate the roles of motivators that are
effective in encouraging knowledge sharing in a group meet- 1. When I share my knowledge through a group meeting,
ing. The results of our experiment indicate that extrinsic I believe that I will get an answer when I give an answer.
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