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Barriers and Enablers of Knowledge Sharing: A Qualitative Study of ABB, Bombardier, Ericsson and Siemens

Research Question: What hinders or enables knowledge sharing in Swedish-based multinational corporations from a cultural, motivational and trust perspective?

Purpose: The purpose of this thesis is to investigate the barriers and enablers of knowledge sharing within multi-national corporations.

Method: The research method chosen to fulfill the purpose of the thesis is a qualitative approach. In order to achieve the purpose both primary and secondary data was sought. In accordance with the qualitative approach, interviews have been carried out with senior managers in ABB, Bombardier, Ericsson and Siemens. Data collected from these interviews represents the primary data. Secondary data has been gathered from company websites.

Conclusion: The results from the studied multi-national organizations suggest that knowledge sharing culture is influenced by communication, rules, regulations and routines (sub-factors of culture). This study shows that communication, rules, regulations and routines are enablers of knowledge sharing in the organizations.

However, language and technology (sub-factors of culture) as collaborative tools are proven to be problematic; consequently creating hindrances to knowledge sharing. When it comes to motivational factors (rewards, power and reciprocity), this thesis shows that none of the studied companies offer rewards for knowledge sharing.

This confirms the controversy connected with rewards which can either enable or cause hindrance to knowledge sharing. Reciprocity seems to enable knowledge sharing in the studied organizations whereas power remains controversial. The existence of power can either be a barrier or an enabler for knowledge sharing depending on the individual’s perception of power.

This thesis also shows that the existence of trust enables knowledge sharing between employees, but the difficulties of building this trust is akey problem for management.
Source: Mälardalen University
Author: Aziz, Najibullah | Gleeson, Darren | Kashif, Muhammad

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