Original Research

The influence of relationship and task conflict on the knowledge-sharing intention in knowledge-intensive organisations

Conrad van Greunen, Elmarie Venter, Gary Sharp
South African Journal of Business Management | Vol 52, No 1 | a2166 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajbm.v52i1.2166 | © 2021 Conrad van Greunen, Elmarie Venter, Gary Sharp | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 03 June 2020 | Published: 23 June 2021

About the author(s)

Conrad van Greunen, Department of Business Management, Nelson Mandela University, Port Elizabeth, South Africa
Elmarie Venter, Department of Business Management, Nelson Mandela University, Port Elizabeth, South Africa
Gary Sharp, Department of Statistics, Nelson Mandela University, Port Elizabeth, South Africa


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Abstract

Purpose: It is well known that knowledge sharing amongst employees contributes positively to an organisation’s competitive advantage, but that individuals are sometimes, for various reasons, reluctant to share knowledge. Although various types of conflict may influence employees’ knowledge-sharing intention, there is a dearth of empirical research in this regard. The purpose of this study was to investigate the influence of relationship and task conflict on the knowledge-sharing intention of individual employees and to establish whether extrinsic or intrinsic motivation moderates the negative effect that relationship conflict, if any, may have on knowledge-sharing intention.

Design/methodology/approach: Data were collected from 597 respondents employed at knowledge-intensive organisations. The hypothesised relationships in this study were assessed by means of general linear modelling.

Findings/results: The results of the study reveal that ‘relationship conflict’ is significantly and negatively related to the dependent variable ‘knowledge-sharing intention’ and that this negative relationship is moderated by employees’ ‘intrinsic motivation’.

Practical implications: The results imply that by intrinsically motivating employees, the negative effect of relationship conflict on knowledge sharing can be alleviated.

Originality/value: Given the importance of managing conflict in the workplace in general and its potential negative influence on knowledge sharing, as well as the dearth of recent empirical research on the relationship between conflict and employees’ knowledge-sharing intention, this study addresses this gap in knowledge-sharing research. In addition, this makes a practical contribution by providing recommendations on how to manage conflict in the workplace. Understanding and managing different types of conflict in the workplace could increase knowledge sharing amongst employees and subsequently enhance organisational and employee performance.


Keywords

extrinsic motivation; intrinsic motivation; knowledge-sharing intention; relationship conflict; task conflict.

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