Although there has been a significant increase in networked communication and a growing interest in technology-supported knowledge management, to date the basic assumption by researchers and practitioners alike has been that individuals value the open sharing of knowledge. However, there has been little research into what happens when organizations try to promote the open sharing of “secret” or proprietary knowledge. To address this gap, we develop a theoretical model and set of hypotheses that integrate social network theories with interdependence theory. This model suggests that the sharing of an individual’s proprietary knowledge in electronic networks is influenced not only by an individual’s self interest and simple reciprocity but also by the individual’s social and organizational context. More specifically, we suggest that proprietary knowledge exchange within an intra-organizational electronic network focused on discussions of work practice is dependent upon 1) the size of the electronic network 2) the structure of ties that emerge through individual interactions in the electronic network, 3) the relational quality of ties that develop between individuals in the electronic network, 4) the relational ties individuals have with the organization, and 5) the individual attributes extended to the electronic network. We then examine the relationship between knowledge exchange within an electronic network focused on practice and organizational outcomes. We conclude with a discussion of our model and suggestions for further research.
Teigland, Robin; Wasko, Molly; and Landqvuist, Fredric, "Examining knowledge exchange and organizational outcomes within intra- organizational electronic networks of practice with restricted access" (2006). ECIS 2006 Proceedings. 143.