AN EMPIRICAL STUDY IN A SOFTWARE FIRM
The creation and sharing of knowledge in an effective manner is increasingly becoming the competitive advantage for the organizations. The empirically based research and practical experience reveal that the perceived levels of peer mentoring and perceived levels of knowledge creation & sharing are proportionately related to each other. Results suggested that a peer mentor training course increased perceived levels of peer mentor knowledge and skills. Results also indicated that higher perceived levels of peer mentoring were related to higher perceived levels of knowledge creation and sharing.
Keywords: peer mentoring; knowledge creation and sharing; high-tech firmsKnowledge-Based View of the Firm
The significance of peer mentoring in managing the knowledge is founded upon the knowledge based view. Knowledge management includes creation, sharing and exploitation of the knowledge. Peer mentors facilitate the process of knowledge creation/sharing, whereas the organizational structures exploit the knowledge, aiming at converting the ideas into new products and services (Boisot, 1998; Crossan, Lane, & White, 1999).
The value of organizational knowledge is an established fact. Now we need to know, how mentoring influences the organizational knowledge. In the past few decades the attention absorbed by mentoring has primarily been due to its connection with job & career success. The primary aim of the peer mentoring relationship is sharing the job-related knowledge & providing psychosocial support (Eby, 1997; Kram 1985). The emphasis in this study has been on sharing of job related knowledge.
PEER MENTORING AND KNOWLEDGE
The creation of more formal and developmental intimacies between and experienced & un-experienced worker makes the peer mentoring relatively more effective in its function. These intimacies facilitate the creation & sharing of knowledge by encouraging smooth flow of knowledge between the workers.
PEER MENTOR TRAINING
Manager's role, in facilitating effective peer mentoring through training and motivating mentors (Trautman, 1999) is highly critical. Peer mentor training is an important method to improve workers' ability to mentor their peers. Peer mentor training provides the workers with essential knowledge for effectively mentoring the peers. This training also provides opportunities to practice the mentoring skills in a safe environment and receive immediate feedback. Finally, training can motivate the workers to be good peer mentors by highlighting various benefits, like: (a) personal gratification and recognition, (b) new team members attain the desired pace more quickly, and (c) They can complete training more quickly and return to their work. This leads to the following hypothesis:
Hypothesis 1: Workers who receive peer mentor training will have higher levels of peer mentoring knowledge and skills than those who do not receive training.
Peer mentors share or externalize knowledge when they organize their thoughts, write them down and transfer implicit perceptions into explicit ones. In this study, we measure individuals' perceptions of their own peer mentoring skills and their perceptions of knowledge sharing in their teams and their organization. Because these are individual perceptual measures, we are suggesting that individuals who experience their own peer-mentoring skills as stronger, will also experience the organization as being more engaged in knowledge sharing. Therefore, we would expect the following:
Hypothesis 2: Higher levels of peer-mentoring knowledge and skills will be associated with higher levels of knowledge creation and sharing.
METHODS PARTICIPANTS AND SETTING
During a one day training course the data were collected by using the Web-based survey from employees of a large software firm. Using repeated measures designed, the trainees were evaluated thrice: before, after & 2 months after the training. The participants represented the major areas of the firm and included software testers, software design engineers, program managers, usability engineers, Web-services engineers, and applications and support professionals. Trainees came from the following three hierarchical levels: individual contributor, team lead, and manager. All participants were full-time employees on the main campus. The participants averaged 33 months at the firm, and 84% were men. Of the participants, 15% had some college, 60% had undergraduate degrees, and 25% had graduate degrees.
Participants in the training received a 1-day training course that covered basic peer-mentoring skills. Of the 107 employees who attended the training, 90 employees filled out the first survey for an initial response rate of 84%. The sample for the study is the 90 participants who attended the peer mentor training and filled out the first survey. Of the 90 who filled out the survey at Time 1 (before the training), 66 filled out the survey at Time 2 (after the training). Of the 66 who filled out the survey at Time 2, 46 filled it out at Time 3 (2 months after the training). We have complete data for 44 participants. The participants filled out a total of 200 surveys. The 90 Time 1 surveys are used for the regression analyses. The 44 participants who filled out all three surveys are used in the repeated measures ANOVA analyses.
A repeated measures ANOVA that included Time 1, Time 2, and Time 3 indicated that there was a significant increase in perceptions of peer mentor knowledge and skills, F(2, 88) = 13.42, MSerror = 2.06, p < .001, such that peer-mentoring levels were significantly higher after the training. This suggests that there is a longer term impact to the training and that participants increased their levels of perceptions of peer mentoring knowledge and skills as a result of the training.Hypothesis 2
Peer mentoring is significant and positively correlated with perceptions of knowledge creation and sharing behaviors (?= .58, p < .001), supporting Hypothesis 2. This suggests that higher perceived levels of peer mentoring contributed to higher perceived levels of knowledge creation and sharing behaviors.Discussion
The results suggest that peer mentoring holds promise for increasing organizational knowledge creation and sharing. Results indicate that perceptions of higher levels of peer mentoring are associated with higher perceived levels of knowledge creation and sharing.
This study's results support Hypothesis 2 that peer mentoring may be an effective way to facilitate the creation and sharing of knowledge through its intentional linking of mentors with valuable knowledge with newer, less experienced workers. Although information systems and knowledge systems are one important way to store and share knowledge, the interpersonal nature of peer mentoring provides dynamic, continuous creation and sharing of ideas that networked computers cannot replace.
This study indicates that peer mentor training can help workers learn peer mentoring knowledge and skills. Perceived levels of peer mentoring increase immediately after the training and are still significantly higher 2 months later. This suggests that there may be a longer term impact to peer mentor training and that participants increase their level of peer mentoring knowledge and skills as a result of the training.
Effectively managing the creation and sharing of knowledge can provide firms with a competitive advantage (Grant, 1996; Teece, 1998). Firms can facilitate knowledge creation and sharing by providing their workers with the appropriate skills and motivation to do so. Peer mentor training provides workers with the knowledge and skills they need to turn their tacit knowledge into explicit knowledge (Nonaka, 1994). Workers are then able to share relevant knowledge with each other.Critical Review:
The research has been carried out on a unique aspect in a comprehensive way. The peer mentoring can have the desired impact on the knowledge creation and sharing in an organization only if peer mentor is trained properly on the training techniques and skills.
Though the research endeavour is quite appreciable, however the complete SKA model (Skill, Knowledge and Attitude) would have been deliberated while collecting the data. The models are simple and clear to work on. The training of the peer mentor himself has been brought to focus, which is worth appreciating ,However making the relationship between an experienced and unexperienced worker more formal may pose psychological barriers, thereby hampering the smooth flow of knowledge between the two.
The results are empirically based and they bear relevance with the data. so the positive relationship between peer mentoring and knowledge management has been statistically proved.similarly,organizing the thoughts, writing them down, transforming implicit perceptions into the explicit facts for sharing with the peers and dynamism are critically significant areas which distinguish the peer mentoring from computerized or automated means of training.
On the whole the paper is a reasonable effort as it is proved. Hypotheses and the results can bring distinct improvement on organizational creation and sharing potentials if they are implemented in true latter and spirit.
Effects of different organizational factors on knowledge management have been studied. Knowledge management has been studied. Top management and leadership support is attached with other steps that can be taken with to change the managerial process and behaviors of employees towards their jobs (Alazmi & Zairi, 2003:). A study conducted by Hasanali (2002) suggested that the effect of leadership support should be good for knowledge management to compete in such a competitive era. Organizational culture seems to be a major factor to effect the practices of knowledge sharing, creation and finally knowledge management success. (Davenport et al., 1998; Hariharan 2005). Different cultural factors found to be determinant of different processes of knowledge management such as adaptability to knowledge acquisition, innovation, idea generation and to implement new knowledge on firm's practices (Zheng, 2005).
Organizational culture clearly define what is important and describe the relationships between individual and team work (De long and Fahey, 2000). Mathi (2004) concluded that knowledge management should support organization strategies and should be incorporated in firm's planning process. Mathi is also of the view that knowledge management strategies should also be applied to achieve firm's goals. Most important knowledge management strategy that is formulated on the basis of individuals and these should be aligned with the organizational goals. (Wong 2005). Knowledge management strategies can not be successfully implemented without strong alignment with and support of organizational strategies.
Training and development in an organization enhance the quality of knowledge management practices (Golet 2006). Though some employees know the importance of training and education but the need is to educate all the employees to actively participate in training conducted by organizations and about the importance of learning attitude (Wong 2005).
The research on this area can be further extended in different dimensions and in organizations operating in different environment. As already discussed, organizational culture is playing an important role in the success of knowledge management process so it should be discusses in the countries where such studies have not been conducted as yet. Furthermore, knowledge management model needs to be examined in project based organization. The effect of perceived organizational support and organization-member exchange should also be measured so that managers may formulate the strategies to promote the knowledge management process in their organizations.
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