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The influence of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation on knowledge transfer. The case of a nonprofit organization

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Nonprofit organizations need their employees to be dynamic transferring knowledge in order to be efficient. Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation may support tacit knowledge transfer considering that, in this kind of organizations, motivation is a very important factor to retain valuable employees. The findings of this research, concerning a nonprofit organization where individuals are the unit of analysis, show that tacit knowledge transfer improves through intrinsic motivation and may have positive effects on organization efficiency.
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THE INFLUENCE OF INTRINSIC AND EXTRINSIC MOTIVATION
ON KNOWLEDGE TRANSFER. THE CASE OF A NONPROFIT
ORGANIZATION.
ABSTRACT
Nonprofit organizations need their employees to be dynamic transferring knowledge in order
to be efficient. Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation may support tacit knowledge transfer
considering that, in this kind of organizations, motivation is a very important factor to retain
valuable employees. The findings of this research, concerning a nonprofit organization where
individuals are the unit of analysis, show that tacit knowledge transfer improves through
intrinsic motivation and may have positive effects on organization efficiency.
KEYWORDS: extrinsic motivation, intrinsic motivation, knowledge transfer, nonprofit
organizations.
1. INTRODUCTION
Knowledge transfer within an organization enables employees to work together efficiently,
and, thus, is essential to efficient management. Thus, managers are motivated to maximize
knowledge transfer among their employees not only to generate extrinsic motivation results,
such as a high quality of personal and professional life, but also to develop intrinsically held
ideals, such as a strong commitment to the organization that allows them to visualize their
professional development with greater autonomy inside a pleasant work environment and in
line with their ethical and moral values. According, managers should encourage their
employees to transfer knowledge as a means to enhance their organizations’ efficiency.
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Within nonprofit organizations, stakeholders tend to have a higher degree of intrinsic
motivation because, traditionally, compensation levels are below market average and
nonprofit employees are more likely to report that their work is more important to them than
the money they earn [Mirvis and Hackett, 1983]. Thus, among nonprofit organizations,
knowledge transfer is not solely the product of extrinsic motivation—traditionally considered
by organizational literature—because individuals have a high degree of intrinsic motivation
and, perhaps, even a limited degree of extrinsic motivation.
Although theoretical literature recognizes the importance of both intrinsic and extrinsic
motivation, no significant body of empirical research has evaluated the effect of the difference
between extrinsic and intrinsic motivation factors on employee knowledge transfer behaviors
[Lin, 2007]. Following the knowledge-based view of the firm, this study examines the
importance of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation as determinants of the employees’ knowledge
transfer. An empirical analysis in a nonprofit organization context due to the relevance of
intrinsic motivation in these types of organizations is performed.
The remainder of the paper is organized as follows. Section 2 discusses the influence of
intrinsic and extrinsic motivation on knowledge transfer, based on prior literature. Section 3
explains the methodology and case study and develops the empirical measures of the
variables. Section 4 presents the results and main findings of the empirical analysis. Section 5
provides conclusions, and discusses limitations of the study as well as future extensions.
2. INTRINSIC AND EXTRINSIC MOTIVATION AS KNOWLEDGE TRANSFER
FACILITATORS
Most individuals desire more from their jobs than simple extrinsic compensation. They may
be motivated by numerous factors such as a pleasant work environment where they can apply
all their capacities and collaborate with interesting people [Pfeffer, 1998], working in an
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atmosphere of mutual respect, the possibility of experiencing feelings of accomplishment and
self-respect when they perform well [Merchant, Van der Stede y Zheng, 2003], the provisions
for adequate leisure time, feelings of power and prestige [Fisher y Govindarajan, 1992], a
low-stress, slower pace of work [Hallock, 2002], or involvement with an organization that has
values and goals similar to their own. As such, intrinsic motivation is not necessarily
controllable by the organization; however, nonprofits may use it to support self-selection and
processes of attracting committed employees [Handy and Katz, 1998; Roomkin and
Weisbrod, 1999; Merchant et al., 2003] for whom intrinsic rewards are an important source of
motivation. Thus, nonprofit employees may be intrinsically motivated to share their
knowledge related to their own individual learning processes [Huysman and de Wit, 2004] or
because they expect or hope for reciprocity, that is, that others will also share knowledge that
may be useful to them [Hendriks, 1999]. As Tampoe [1996] notes, knowledge-transfer
workers are influenced by personal growth, operational autonomy, and task achievement
rather than by financial rewards. Moreover, Ryan and Deci [2000] recognize that feelings of
competence will not enhance intrinsic motivation unless they are accompanied by a sense of
autonomy, thus people must not only experience perceived competence (or self-efficacy), they
must also experience their behavior to be self-determined if intrinsic motivation is to be
maintained or enhanced.
These strong connections to factors beyond extrinsic rewards show the considerable influence
that intrinsic motivation exerts over knowledge transfer, thus improving individuals’
propensity to share their knowledge with other organizational members and facilitating
learning processes, which are vital issues at a time when the ability to learn more and learn
faster than one’s competitors is often an organization’s only sustainable competitive
advantage [Stata, 1989; Nonaka, 1991; Slater y Narver, 1995].
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Intrinsic motivation is, therefore, a powerful tool to overcome barriers that hinder knowledge
transfer among employees. Specifically, intrinsic motivation enables the development of
informal groups outside formal organizational structures and allows rapid problem solving,
the transfer of improved practices, and the development of professional abilities [Wenger y
Snyder, 2000). Likewise, intrinsic motivation may help to achieve a more productive balance
between individual competition and collaboration, because it favors a greater level of
cooperation; namely, higher knowledge transfer induced by higher intrinsic motivation
reduces excessive competition that hinders apprenticeship and collaboration [Kofman and
Senge, 1993].
Furthermore, intrinsic motivation promotes a working environment that expedites both formal
and informal communication, which entails greater transfer and acquisition of knowledge as
well as the development of behaviors that strengthen organizational learning [Slater and
Narver, 1995]. Intrinsic motivation may also increase employees’ commitment to the
organization because it creates a desire for self-improvement as a means to support the
organization, bringing about the development of “learn to learn” capabilities [Swieringa y
Wierdsma, 1992]. In the same way, intrinsic motivation helps eradicate a lack of work-related
challenges, because the increment of responsibilities increases the necessity of knowledge
sharing [Guns, 1996]. In the same manner, intrinsic motivation favors decision making
consensus, which requires a significant commitment among different groups of employees
[Walsh, 1995]. Also, intrinsic motivation combats the “external enemy syndrome”1, therefore,
individuals who feel secure in their job positions will analyze the causes of an existing
problem, collect the required knowledge, and propose a solution without fear of retribution.
Finally, the commitment to the organization and personal development—distinctive features
of intrinsic motivation—make it easier to emerge employees mental models and explore and
analyze them to observe how they influence individuals’ behavior within the organization by
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removing negative aspects and creating new, better functioning models [Senge, 1990; Senge,
Roberts, Ross, Smith y Kleiner, 1994].
Thus, intrinsic motivation performs two significant roles in the knowledge transfer process.
First, it is a reward of the process itself, and, second, it promotes individual participation in
the knowledge transfer process [Lucas and Ogilvie, 2006]. Specifically, intrinsic motivation
enables the generation and transfer of knowledge under conditions in which extrinsic
motivation fails [Osterloh and Frey, 2000]. As McDermott and O'Dell [2001] point out,
organizations that recognize their employees’ efforts, abilities, and accomplishments provide
intrinsic motivation for them to transfer their knowledge, thus leading to the first hypothesis:
H1. The higher the intrinsic motivation an employee has, the more the knowledge the
employee is willing to transfer.
On the other hand, extrinsic motivation is considered as the set of monetary rewards—both
direct (e.g., wages, incentives, bonus) and indirect (e.g., time not worked, training,
contributions to employees’ benefit plans such as medical dental and life insurance, fringe
benefits, expense account, and other allowances)—that individuals receive in exchange for
their job. These external incentives motivate employees to perform valuable tasks for the
organization [Milgrom y Roberts, 1992; Prendergast, 1999; Bonner and Sprinkle, 2002].
Employees are extrinsically motivated if they are able to satisfy their needs indirectly,
especially through monetary compensation. It is quite possible that greater emphasis on
monetary incentives will begin to attract individuals who value economic wealth more highly
[Perry and Porter, 1982]. That is, money is a “goal which provides satisfaction irrespective of
the actual activity itself” [Osterloh and Frey, 2000: p. 2]. Although these organizational
rewards may provide temporary incentives for knowledge sharing, they are not a fundamental
force in forming employees’ knowledge-sharing behaviors [Lin, 2007].
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However, the literature is not in full agreement on the effectiveness of extrinsic motivation on
the transfer of knowledge. Lucas and Ogilvie [2006] recognize that prior research on
knowledge transfer and extrinsic motivation suggests a significant and positive relation
between these variables, even though they find no support in their study for the role of
extrinsic motivation on knowledge transfer. Bock et al. [2005] find that extrinsic rewards
exert a negative effect on an individual’s knowledge-sharing attitudes and that expected
organizational rewards do not significantly influence employee attitudes and behavioral
intentions regarding knowledge sharing [Lin, 2007]. Osterloh and Frey [2000] point out that
the generation and transfer of knowledge are more important for intrinsically motivated
employees than for those extrinsically motivated. Finally, in her quantitative survey, Burgess
[2005] finds that employees who perceive greater organizational rewards for knowledge
sharing spend more hours sharing knowledge beyond their immediate teammates.
In this study, the authors suggest that a “crowding-out” effect does not exist between extrinsic
and intrinsic motivations and that a positive relation between extrinsic motivation and
knowledge transfer exists because to transfer knowledge, employees need to feel that the
organization provides something concrete and meaningful to them—something that provides
quality of life and not simply membership and recognition. Several organizations have
designed reward systems to encourage employees to share their knowledge with others
[Bartol and Srivastava, 2002], because willingness to share usually depends on reciprocity.
The idea is that individuals are motivated through commitment and that compensation is used
as a fair exchange [Hall, 2001]. Accordingly, employees who feel adequately rewarded will
develop a strong commitment to the organization, will remain for extended periods of time,
and will create and transfer knowledge among themselves, thus improving their performance.
Rewards also play a role in such a knowledge-sharing mechanism in that the perceived
fairness of reward system assists in the development of trust between an individual and the
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organization [Bartol and Srivastava, 2002]. Hansen et al. [2002] suggest that an important
aspect of rewards is the instrumentality, that it is simply a “means to an end” or an “in order
to” relationship. Thus, extrinsic motivation may lead to employees to need to voluntarily
transfer their knowledge.
The authors suggest that, even though extrinsic rewards may not be the primary motivation
for knowledge transfer, they can be a powerful tool for generating a baseline commitment to
the organization, because employees must first satisfy their financial needs to sustain a good
quality of life. Therefore, if they are satisfied with the extrinsic rewards provided by their
organization, they will be more productive and creative, able to take the initiative, and
ultimately, ready and willing to transfer their knowledge to others within the organization.
Accordingly, the second hypothesis is proposed:
H2. The higher the extrinsic motivation an employee has, the more the knowledge the
employee is willing to transfer.
3. METHODOLOGY
The case study [Yin, 2003] is used as method of analysis to reach the proposed goal of the
research. Taking into account that this analysis requires detailed information about each
individual and the authorization of the nonprofit’s management to acquire it—as well as the
specific hypotheses proposed about the relation between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation and
knowledge transfer- the research nature is quite explicative [Scapens, 1990].
Following Yin [2003], the authors place a great emphasis on the validity of the internal and
external constructs and the reliability of the research in order to ensure that the relations
between the analyzed variables are correctly based and that the results among the variables
can be generalized to other nonprofits (at least, concerning social action or disabilities). The
authors also attempt to ensure that the measures are well-built to assess the defined variables.
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Finally, the authors focus on the reliability of the research’ results— that is, that they are
stable, precise, and robust (i.e., we repeatedly obtain the same results with other interviews,
other surveys, and over different periods of time).
Furthermore, to restrict the research’s complexity, the three dimensions through which a case
complexity is valuated were balanced. In this way, the authors focus on one organization, take
the employee as unit of analysis, and perform an intra-organizational analysis.
In the case study, a Spanish nonprofit association (Asprona), which cares for people with
mental disabilities in the city of Valladolid, Spain, and the surrounding region, was analyzed.
This is a nonprofit organization, with a declared social interest and public utility intent,
Asprona was founded in 1962 and has since been working on behalf of people with
intellectual disabilities and their families to improve their quality of life. In the national scope,
Asprona belongs to the National Confederation of Associations, a lobby group that combines
the forces of these types of nonprofit organizations to promote innovative and efficient
initiatives in organization and service provision. Asprona has 1,353 members, 897 employees
(of whom 567 are disabled); it takes care of 1,445 people and has 140 volunteers. Throughout
its history, Asprona has created and developed an extended network of services and centers to
support and satisfy the multiple needs and requests of its clients over their life cycle. The
activities carried out by the organization to achieve its goals are structured in three main
areas: assistance, labor, and associative2 (see Figure 1).
3.1 THE SAMPLE
Specifically, the information for this study was obtained from the assistance area (270
employees), whose mission is to satisfy the assistance and educative needs and to improve the
quality of life of people with intellectual disabilities and their families through the promotion
and management of social programs and services. The assistance area is composed of five
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centers: early care, school services, residential services, day centers and leisure time and sport
services (see Figure 1).
Figure 1. Asprona’s internal structure
Within Asprona’s assistance area, the individual—namely, the organization’s employees
(primarily psychologists, social workers, social educators, and physiotherapists)—is the unit
of analysis. In other words, employees without disabilities who work with people with
disabilities. The final sample consists of 76 employees. Considering that the total pool of
employees from the assistance area is 270, the participation obtained was 28.15%.
3.2. DATA COLLECTION
Multiple information sources were used to obtain the required data from Asprona and carry
out the methodological triangulation to avoid internal validity problems. The data were
collected in two phases: first, the authors decided to accomplish in-depth interviews in order
to gather useful information about nonprofits in general, and concretely about Asprona, so, it
would be possible to design the most suitable instrument for data collecting. Accordingly, the
authors performed in-depth interviews with the director of the assistance area, the directors of
the labor area and the chairperson, as well as several key employees from different centers.
Board of
directors
CEO
Labor Assistance
Transversal areas
Children education Daycare Centers Schools Residential
Centers
Leisure activities
Associative
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Furthermore, multiple documents, including the organization’s Web page, annual reports and
internal operating documents were consulted.
Second, the information concerning knowledge transfer and motivation variables was
gathered through a questionnaire adapted for nonprofits (one that could be used in other
organizations to ensure its external validity). A pretest was previously completed to adapt the
questionnaire to the specificities of the involved organization. Once the pretest phase was
finished, the questionnaire was distributed by the assistance area director to all the centers
(See Appendix).
The information obtained through in-depth interviews was quite interesting: the employees
interviewed have been working for the organization for a long time, from 10 to 27 years;
hence, the knowledge and experience they have achieved are both important. The knowledge
transfer is usually generated daily through meetings where ideas, proposals, and so on emerge
and later are transformed into programs and activities. Asprona provides training to its
employees, which provides them skills to perform better in their work with people with
disabilities. However, tacit knowledge conversion into explicit knowledge is not a systematic
process, so, there are employees who do not necessarily create a formalized structure of
knowledge transfer (e.g., writing things down) because it would restrict their initiative and
creativity.
Overall, the interviewed employees are motivated by the ability to collaborate to improve the
quality of life of people with disabilities and their families. Even though they agree that their
salary is lower than the labor market average, the working environment, the possibility to do
something for someone in need, job position autonomy and the freedom to make decisions, a
convenient work schedule, and job flexibility are some of the reasons employees used to
justify their long permanence in the organization. Consequently, the authors claim that
employees interviewed feel committed to Asprona.
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Thus, in-depth interviews provided useful information to make a preliminary analysis in
Asprona’s assistance area, which was confirmed with the information obtained by means of
the questionnaires.
3.3. VARIABLES
The relevant variables to this study are extrinsic motivation, intrinsic motivation, and
knowledge transfer. To capture the dimensions of these variables, a set of multi-item
instruments that draw on previous empirical research was used. The employees were asked to
rate their degree of agreement with each of the items measured on a Likert-type scale from 1
(totally disagree) to 7 (totally agree).
When measures to assess possible motivation mechanisms are established, two problems are
encountered: (a) the scarce empirical evidence about this question within the framework of
nonprofit sector and (b) the restrictions that nonprofit organizations face in using incentives—
both from a social and a practical application point of view—to improve their employees
motivation and align their interests with the organization goals because, unlike for-profit
organizations, they cannot offer such incentives as stock grants, profit sharing, or bonuses
linked to sales volume increases or the appreciation of the stock market. For these reasons, an
instrument adapted to the singularities of the organization under analysis was developed,
based on prior empirical research [see for example Cyert and March [1963], Collins and
Yeager [1988], Leete [2000], Zárraga and Bonache [2003]. However, even though these
measures have been previously validated by several authors, a confirmatory factor analysis to
guarantee their validity and reliability was performed.
A construct for extrinsic motivation was developed, which is defined as external rewards, that
includes four items based on prior empirical studies: expense account and allowances linked
to the activity performed (HIGH-POWERED INCENTIVES) [Collins and Yeager, 1988;
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Finkelstein and Hambrick, 1989; Balkin and Gomez-Mejia, 1990], labor stability
(STABILITY) [Delaney and Huselid, 1996], the organizational recognition
(RECOGNITION) [Guallino and Prevot, 2008], and promotion (PROMOTION) [Challagalla
and Shervani, 1996; Delaney and Huselid, 1996].
Intrinsic motivation, identified with the satisfaction that a person receives from his or her
position or work environment, was measured using four items: self-confidence and self-
fulfillment (SELF-CONFIDENCE) [Oliver and Anderson, 1994; Challagalla and Shervani,
1996], involvement and sense of belonging (MEMBERSHIP) [Leete, 2000], the feeling of
working for a honest organization (HONESTY) [Robinson, 1996; Tyler, 2003] and, autonomy
in the performance of activities (AUTONOMY) [Das and Joshi, 2007].
With regard to dependent variables, knowledge transfer was measured using an adapted
version of the Zárraga and Bonache, [2003], Bock et al. [2005] and Ko et al. [2005]
instruments, which includes the following items: The employee actively shares ideas and
opinions (IDEAS SHARING); the employee actively shares knowledge and experiences
(KNOWLEDGE SHARING); the employee considers that his or her activity in the
organization allows him or her to garner new knowledge from other employees
(LEARNING); the employee keeps in frequent contact with other colleagues (CONTACTS);
and, finally, the employee believes that consensus decision making commonly influences
issues related to his or her job (CONSENSUS).
3.4. DATA ANALYSIS
A Partial Least Squares approach (PLS) was used to test the research hypotheses. In PLS,
measurement and structural parameters are estimated via an iterative procedure which
combines simple and multiple regression by Ordinary Least Squares (OLS), thus avoiding
any distributional assumption of the observed variables. Moreover, due to the partial nature of
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this methodology, where the model parameters are estimated in blocks, the sample size
required in PLS is much smaller. The model in this research includes both latent (measured
with reflective indicators) and emergent (formative) constructs (Table 1). In particular,
intrinsic and extrinsic motivation are composites formed or caused by the corresponding
observed variables, while the knowledge transfer constitutes unobserved variables reflected in
a set of manifest variables.
The model was estimated using SmartPLS 2.00 M3 [Ringle, Wende and Will, 2005]. Since
traditional parametric tests are inappropriate when no assumption is made about the
distribution of the observed variables, the level of statistical significance of the coefficients of
both the measurement and the structural models was determined through a bootstrap re-
sampling procedure (500 sub-samples were randomly generated). Structural evaluation was
conducted by examining the size and significance of the path coefficients and the R2 value of
the dependent variable.
4. RESULTS
The information obtained by means of the questionnaire for a sample of 76 employees in
Asprona’s Assistance Area allows the authors to test the research hypotheses. As Table 1
shows, all the items concerning intrinsic motivation and knowledge transfer have an average
above 4 (on a scale from 1 to 7).
Following the two-step approach suggested by Anderson and Gerbing [1988], before testing
and assessing the structural model, the authors analyzed the reliability of individual reflective
items and the corresponding constructs, as well as the convergent validity and discriminant
validity of the measures. As can be observed in Table 1, all the reflective item loadings are
significant and greater than 0.6. The authors evaluated composite reliability using the internal
consistency measure (ρc) developed by Fornell and Larcker [1981] and the average variance
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extracted (AVE) of each latent construct. The reflective construct exceeds the conditions of ρc
greater than 0.7 and AVE greater than 0.5.
Table 1. Descriptive statistics and convergent validity
Variables and measured items Mean (S.D.) Loading Weights t statistic
Extrinsic motivation (n.a.)
High powered incentives
Stability
Recognition
Promotion
Intrinsic motivation (n.a.)
Self-confidence
Membership
Honesty
Autonomy
Knowledge contributions
(ρc=0.96, α Cronbach=0.95,
AVE=0.83)
Ideas sharing
Knowledge sharing
Learning
Contacts
Consensus
1,22
5,08
2,20
3,25
4,37
4,42
4,45
5,16
4,44
4,62
4,52
3,95
4,12
(0,81)
(1,75)
(1,56)
(2,12)
(1,78)
(1,93)
(1,88)
(1,41)
(1,83)
(1,79)
(1,93)
(2,17)
(1,87)
0,9829
0,7770
0,9115
0,8541
0,9822
0,5896
0,1197
0,4778
0,8746
0,7157
0,7677
0,0802
-0,0947
2,6151
0,0478
1,7277
6,0178
2,9600
3,6108
1,4051
0,7758
72,1276
4,0540
8,8734
7,8152
45,4829
Discriminant validity can be obtained by calculating the cross-loadings. It was verified that
each reflective item loads more on the construct it intends to measure than on any other
construct, and that each latent variable relates more to its own manifest variables than to the
indicators of other constructs (Table 2). For emergent constructs (intrinsic and extrinsic
motivation), in Table 1 weights instead of loadings are reported. Item weight represents its
relative contribution in the formation of the corresponding construct. It is necessary to bear in
mind that neither is it assumed nor required that formative indicators are correlated; therefore,
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traditional measures of internal consistency and validity assessment are inappropriate and
illogical [Rodríguez Pinto et al. 2008].
Table 2. Discriminant validity (cross-loadings)
Intrinsic
motivation
Extrinsic
motivation
Knowledge
contribution
High powered incentives 0,469 0,630 0,424
Stability -0,096
0,007 0,005
Recognition 0,479
0,505 0,340
Promotion 0,603
0,932 0,627
Self-confidence 0,789 0,752 0,654
Membership 0,807 0,381 0,669
Honesty 0,078 -0,054 0,065
Autonomy -0,074 -0,051 -0,061
Ideas sharing 0,834 0,691 0,981
Knowledge sharing 0,613 0,442 0,802
Learning 0,771 0,607
0,918
Contacts 0,696 0,602
0,861
Consensus 0,834 0,691
0,981
Figure 2 summarizes the results of the PLS analysis performed to test the structural model. In
particular, the standardized coefficients (β), the significance level (t statistic) and the value of
the R2 of the dependent variable are shown. Hypothesis 1 is supported. In fact, only the link
between intrinsic motivation and knowledge transfers (contributions) is supported (H1:
β=0.72, p<0.001). When employees are intrinsically motivated, they are willing to contribute
with their knowledge to the rest of employees. However, the extrinsic motivation is not
significant on knowledge contribution and then, H2 is not supported (H2: β=0.20, n.s.). This
result is interesting bearing in mind that people is involved to a nonprofit organization due to
intrinsic reasons. Intrinsic motivation is the most important element for knowledge
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contribution (sharing and transmitting this knowledge within the organization to other
stakeholders).
Figure 2. Structural model results.
Note: t statistics values appear in parentheses. *** p<0.001. **p<0.01. *p<0.05
(based on a one-tailed test).
To conclude, the model presented in this paper exhibits an acceptable capacity to explain how
intrinsic motivation is affecting knowledge transfers (see the R2 values of these variables in
Figure 2). The paper establishes that there is not a “crowding-out” effect between intrinsic
and extrinsic motivation, on the contrary there is a mutual reinforcement between them. The
authors suppose that the correlation between the intrinsic and extrinsic motivation variables
may be the cause that, finally, extrinsic motivation lacks of effect (see Table 3).
Table 3. Correlations between latent variables
Extrinsic
motivation
Intrinsic
motivation
Knowledge
transfer
Extrinsic
motivation 1 0 0
Intrinsic
motivation 0,6909 1 0
Knowledge
transfer 0,6732 0,8287 1
Intrinsic
motivation
Extrinsic
motivation
Knowledge
transfer
R2=0.71
H2: β=0.20 (0.92)
H1: β=0.72*** (3.42)
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5. CONCLUSIONS, MANAGERIAL IMPLICATIONS, LIMITATIONS AND
FUTURE EXTENSIONS
Knowledge transfer, a key element in knowledge management, has achieved recognition
nowadays for the important role it plays in creating sustainable competitive advantages and
organizational efficiency. Notwithstanding whether employees are willing to transfer and
share their knowledge, contributing to the organizational efficiency is not without cost.
Employees need to perceive that their organization values them by providing suitable work
conditions that allow them to progress, both personally and professionally, and also, they need
to feel satisfied and a sense of well-being with the activities performed. For these reasons,
intrinsic motivation reaches a high importance for managers.
However, looking at the results of our study, extrinsic motivation, such as high-powered
incentives provided by the organization and offered to the employees, is not necessary for
them to transfer their knowledge. It is intrinsic motivation, generated internally by the
individual, which has been proven to have a better effect on the employee’s performance,
because it implies employee’s commitment to the organization. Therefore, nonprofit
organizations—specifically, those focused on social action—may find intrinsic motivations
particularly important in getting their employees to achieve the organizational goals and
mission in the most efficient manner. This type of organization is a good example how
intrinsic motivation can influence employees to stay in the organization for a long time, which
enables them to increase and share their knowledge with the rest of the employees and build
their skill base and experiences to the benefit of organizational efficiency.
Thus, the results confirm one of the hypotheses. The study verifies that more intrinsically
motivated employees more actively transfer their knowledge, and the level of extrinsic
motivation of Asprona‘s employees is not a significant determinant to foster employees’
knowledge transfer.
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In non-profit organizations is difficult to evaluate how intrinsic motivation is leading to a
better organizational performance and, sometimes, managers prefer to use extrinsic tools to
get the employees attached and involved in the organization. Using the knowledge-based
approach, we go a step further giving light to this debate, claiming that if an organization
creates the environment to motivate intrinsically its employees they will be willing to transfer
their knowledge and accept and capture the knowledge of the rest of the employees. All this
process makes the organization to be better off. Extrinsic motivation is not enough to retain
and use effectively employees’ knowledge and, additionally, is not significant for knowledge
transfer. Managers should use this evidence by trying to involve deeply their employees in the
organization’s mission and strategy, and making them to feel that they are part of the
organization.
Accordingly, managers should design the mechanisms to convert tacit knowledge into explicit
knowledge, so the organization can achieve an organizational memory, which makes
efficiency over time possible, even if employees retire or resign from the organization.
However, this research is based just in one organization, and recommendations to other
nonprofit organizations must, therefore, be very cautious. Besides that, the authors have just
studied the assistance area, in the future the labor area will be studied, and therefore, a full
view of the organization will be reached.
The findings of this research could be affected by national issues so it is necessary to put them
in context taking into account the specific environment in which the organization under
analysis is performing their activities. Family is a fundamental institution in Spain. Bearing in
mind that the welfare state has not a long tradition in this country since it is one of the
youngest democracies in Western Europe, certain services that in other industrialized
countries are provided by the social services of the central government, was assumed by
Spanish families. However, the complexity of the assistance and educative needs of people
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with intellectual disabilities demands a professional provision. Many of the involved families
made the decision to set up a nonprofit organization so that they could have access to a
greater amount of funds to channel them in order to improve the quality of life of their
disabled relatives. This task had not been necessary if the welfare state was sufficiently
developed to give an adapted response to the specific needs of this group of disabled people.
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APPENDIX. Questionnaire for employees in the assistance area (7-point Likert scale).
I receive a fixed salary (base salary, complements, etc) for my activity in the organization
(High Powered Incentives)
The organization offers stability and continuity in my job (Stability)
The organization recognizes expressly my job (through rewards, mentions in the
organization’s magazine, intranet, advertisement board, etc.) ( Recognition)
The organization offers me the possibility for promotion. (Promotion)
My activity in the organization let’s me improve as a person, enhance my self-confidence,
get mature, self-accomplish…) (Self-Confidence)
I have autonomy in my job and I can contribute with my ideas (Autonomy)
I consider this organization honest and coherent with its mission (Honesty)
I have an organization’s sense of belonging (I feel myself as an organization member,
loyal and involved to it). (Membership))
With my activity in the organization, I share actively my ideas and opinions (Ideas
sharing)
With my activity in the organization, I share actively my knowledge and experience
(Knowledge sharing)
With my activity in the organization, I learn new things that only my partners know
(Learning)
With my activity in the organization I have frequent contacts (email, phone, etc.) with
other employees (Contacts)
In general, all the decisions that affect my job are taken by consensus (Consensus)
NOTES:
1 The “external enemy syndrome” is a situation in which the identification that the individual has with his own
job position decreases his propensity to transfer knowledge in order to avoid that others take advantage of his
own capabilities.
2 The labor area creates and promotes employment for disabled people, principally with intellectual disability,
offering its clients (companies and public institutions) the best quality in products and services. Asprona’s
assistance area takes care of the assistance and educative needs of people with intellectual disability through
their whole life. The associative area integrates the associated members in the political-institutional and services
benefit levels.
... The author avers that intrinsic motivation plays a significant part in convincing workers to remain in the organisation for a longer timean act that offers such employees an opportunity to develop further career-wise and hence share even more knowledge with their colleagues in the firm as such employees develop into knowledge reservoirs and sources of organisational memory. That endeavour allows such employees to establish further their knowledge and skill base and gaining more relevant experiences that ultimately benefit the entire organisation (Perez et al., 2009). ...
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Purpose Due to its complex nature and influence, an inappropriate organisational culture can be a strong impediment to effective knowledge sharing in an organisation, yet a suitable culture enhances organisational effectiveness. The aim of this study was to elucidate the role of organisational culture in facilitating knowledge sharing in a selected government ministry in Botswana. The role of people, collaboration, trust and rewards was explored to explicate their influence on knowledge sharing. Design/methodology/approach A descriptive survey design was adopted in which a questionnaire was administered to 127 respondents who were sampled from a population of 431 employees of the ministry based at the head office in Gaborone, with 97 questionnaires successfully completed and returned culminating in a 76.4% response rate. Findings The findings of the study exposed a significant and positive correlation between organisational culture and knowledge sharing in the government ministry covered in the study, although incidents of ineffective knowledge sharing were detected. Out of the four elements of organisational culture that were examined (people, collaboration, trust and rewards), the correlation analysis revealed a significant and positive relationship between the independent variables and the dependent variable in three of the four independent variables under study. Originality/value The study identified gaps in managing knowledge and proposed suitable measures which can add value to knowledge-sharing practices within the selected ministry and elsewhere. The findings of the study are critical as they enable the management at the ministry to develop capabilities for improving knowledge-sharing practices.
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