The influence of knowledge sharing on performance among Malaysian public sector managers and the moderating role of individual personality

Abdul Manaf, Halimah

June 2012

Thesis or dissertation

© 2012 Halimah Abdul Manaf. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

There have been recent calls for further research into the sharing of managerial tacit knowledge to enhance individual and organisational performance. This, due to a lack of knowledge of current practices of knowledge sharing, especially in developing countries, has been the motivation behind this research. The study examines the roles of personality traits in facilitating knowledge sharing practices and managerial tacit knowledge transfer among managers working in high and low performance local governments. Specifically, the study examines the direct relationship between knowledge sharing practices and tacit knowledge among 308 managers working in local governments. Secondly, this study explores the differences between knowledge sharing practices, tacit knowledge and individual performance among managers working in high and low performance local governments. Thirdly, this study also explores the role of personality traits as moderators of the relationship between knowledge sharing practices and tacit knowledge with individual performance. A triangulation approach combining questionnaire and interviews was used in the study. The questionnaire was distributed to middle managers of 35 Malaysian local government engaged in a Star Rating System. There were 358 completed questionnaires returned, but only 308 were useable. To support the results from the quantitative data, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 8 managers from Malaysian Local Governments of high and low levels of performance representing 4 main categories: City Hall, City Council, Municipal Council, and District Council.

The results provided general support the majority of hypotheses of the study. Specifically, mentoring programme (competence), individual codification, institutional personalization and institutional codification were related to managerial tacit knowledge transfer. Tacit knowledge associated with managing oneself, managing tasks and managing others were significantly related to knowledge sharing practices. Unexpectedly, there were no significant differences in knowledge sharing practices, levels of accumulated managerial tacit knowledge, or individual performance between high and low performance local governments. Finally, results indicated that the agreeableness dimension of individual personality interacted with mentoring programmes in a way that predicted individual performance. Furthermore, agreeableness and conscientiousness dimensions of personality interacted with tacit knowledge associated managing self and managing tasks to influence individual performance. The openness dimension interacted with tacit knowledge associated with managing others to influence individual performance.

This study adds to the limited body of empirical research in knowledge management, particularly within the Malaysian public sector. It represents a comprehensive survey and explanation of knowledge management in Malaysia. The relationship between knowledge sharing practices and tacit knowledge variables and their interaction with sub traits of personality in terms of individual performance suggests that it would be beneficial to the Ministry of Housing and Local Government in Malaysia to manage tacit knowledge as a way of enhancing individual performance. Contributions to the theory and practice, limitations and implications of the study are discussed.

Business School, The University of Hull
Armstrong, Steven J.; Lawton, Alan
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