Understanding Employees’ Willingness to Contribute to Shared Electronic Databases

Understanding Employees’ Willingness to Contribute to Shared Electronic Databases

Understanding Employees’ Willingness to Contribute to Shared Electronic Databases A Three-Dimensional Framework Guowei Jian Leo W. Jeffres Cleveland State University
Work organizations increasingly adopt shared electronic databases. However, employees’unwillingness to contribute to shared resources undermines the utility of such technologies. Current research is limited to either a utilitarian or normative perspective. To advance understanding in this area,this study proposes a three-dimensional framework. It includes the utilitarian and normative perspectives as two complementary dimensions in addition to a third collaborative dimension. Based on this framework, the study identifies three key organizational processes and advances an additive model to predict employees’ willingness to contribute to shared electronic databases. An empirical test was conducted to assess the model in a large manufacturing organization. The test showed both significant overall effects of the model and significant main effects of each predictor variable. The article will discuss the findings and address both theoretical and practical implications.
Keywords: information sharing; collective action; organizational knowledge; knowledge management; collaboration; communities of practice; identification Organizations increasingly adopt electronic databases for the purpose of pooling information as shared resources (Kankanhalli, Tan, & Wei, 2005). Research shows that information sharing contributes to organizational efficiency,learning,and innovation (Constant, Kiesler, & Sproull, 1994). In reality, however, the desired success is far from guaranteed (Constant et al., 1994). Employees’ reluctance or resistance to contribute to shared electronic databases results in information undersupply and underutilization of such technologies (Connolly & Thorn,1990). Although organizations have the option to force participation by administrative means, employees’ unwillingness can lead to substandard information and undermine the managerial purpose (Kalman, Monge, Fulk, & Heino, 2002). To understand employees’ willingness to contribute to shared electronic databases, we intend to advance a threedimensional framework based on current theoretical development. Two single-dimensional perspectives dominate extant research in this area. One is a utilitarian perspective, assuming individuals to be calculative, driven by self-interests.

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