Tacit Knowledge Sharing Behavior, Within A Relational Social Capital Framework, In A South African University Of Technology

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Carol Smith
Marie de Beer
Roger Bruce Mason


Social Capital, Theory of Reasoned Action, Tacit Knowledge Sharing, Trust, Norms


The sharing of tacit knowledge is an important influence on the development of intellectual capital in a University of Technology but whereas its effects are clear in a business context, they have been absent from studies in the context of higher education.

This study integrated relational social capital and reasoned action theory to construct a model for investigating factors that predict an individual’s intention to share tacit knowledge.  Specifically, it examined the relationship between relational social capital in terms of trust (affect and cognitive-based trust), shared norms and values (including social norms and norms of social support and reciprocity) and the individual’s attitude towards sharing tacit knowledge.  It further examined the relationship between the individual’s attitude, their perceived norms and perceived behavioral control over the sharing of tacit knowledge and their intention to share tacit knowledge.

A hypothesized, theoretical model of the individual’s intention to share tacit knowledge was developed.  This model was found to be a poor fit to the data and an alternative model was developed which was found to be a good fit to the data.  This study incorporated nine research interviews and five hundred and fifty four questionnaires. 

Relational social capital was found to be significant for predicting individuals’ intentions to share tacit knowledge but the reasoned action variables were found to be less significant, particularly perceived behavioral control over the sharing of tacit knowledge, indicating the need for further research.


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