In a special guest post, Megan L. Endres, Professor of Management, at Eastern Michigan University provides a debrief of data gathering from a recent survey on Knowledge Sharing promoted by the OSI.
We are extremely grateful to those who filled out the survey. We feel that our research can help create better environments at work, where team members can share knowledge and innovate.
Purpose of the Study
Our research is focused on knowledge sharing in ambiguous circumstances. Six Sigma is a method of quality control that should reduce ambiguity, given its structured approach. We ask whether the reduction in ambiguity is coupled with a reduction in knowledge sharing as well.
A total of 54 people responded, of whom 58% had a bachelor’s degree and 26% had a master’s degree. Average of full-time work experience was 13.9 years, and average of managerial experience was 6.7 years.
Most respondents (53%) reported working in an organization with 400+ full-time employees, although a strong second (37%) reported working with 100 or fewer.
Most reported that they work on a team of 3 members (21%), although a large percentage work on teams with 4 members (18.4%) and 5 members (13.2%). The complexity of the team tasks was moderately high, rated 3.66 on a 1 to 5 scale (least to most complex) (s.d. = 1.05).
Knowledge and Sharing
Respondents believed they brought considerable expertise to their team projects, which could be a result of good team assignments according to knowledge and skill. The average expertise reported was 4.13, on a scale of 1 (very low) to 5 (very high) (s.d. = 0.99).
Important variables we gathered are below with the mean and standard deviation. These are the average of a set of questions that was tested for reliability and averaged. It is important to note that standard deviations are all about 1 and, given a 5-point scale, this indicates general agreement among those who responded. The average of these variables was the same for varied years of experience, years of management, size of company, and level of education.
|I share knowledge on my teams||4.35|
|My team shares knowledge with me||3.51|
|Knowledge sharing is valuable||4.43|
|My teams are innovative/creative||4.05|
|I have clear goals/feedback||3.17|
Relationships in the Data
We will be gathering more data in order to perform more complex data analysis, but correlations show relationships that may prove to be important.
Significant relationships include:
- Higher self-reported knowledge sharing is related to more clear goal setting at work, more innovative teamwork, and positive knowledge sharing attitudes. This is not surprising because an environment with positive knowledge sharing has better communication between team members and, therefore, clarifications are more likely when goals aren’t clear. Those who worked for larger organizations (400+ employees) said that their goal setting was clearer. This also is not surprising because more formal structure in the organization probably is associated with formal performance reviews and procedures.
- Higher team knowledge sharing is associated with less likelihood one will have a Six Sigma belt and with lower Six Sigma knowledge. This may indicate that knowledge sharing, and Six Sigma are negatively related, but until a larger sample of responses is gathered, this is only a proposition.
- The open source software questions did not reveal important information so far. That is because you are a part of a sample that uniformly has positive attitudes toward open source (in general). Others will fill out the survey in the future who are not affiliated with open source groups and variation in the responses will allow us to study relationships with other data.
Megan L. Endres, Professor of Management, Eastern Michigan University