Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Michael Coovert, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Walter Borman, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Paul Spector, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Judith Bryant, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Chad Dubé, Ph.D.


goal orientation, knowledge asking, intrinsic rewards, extrinsic rewards, knowledge giving, organizational learning culture, financial rewards


There is increasing recognition that informal learning is a crucial component of organizational functioning and a necessary complement to the formal training that employees receive. As jobs evolve and demand more complex skills, workers must use informal learning to adapt to ever-changing work requirements. Informal learning is often dependent on voluntary knowledge sharing behavior, as evident among members of mastermind groups or communities of practice. In order to assist organizations, researchers must seek to understand the factors that motivate employees to engage in knowledge sharing behavior.

Empirical research on knowledge sharing is nascent. There exists only a handful of quantitative studies examining organizational factors (e.g., rewards) and individual factors (e.g., learning goal orientation and personality) as they relate to knowledge sharing attitudes, intentions, and behaviors. This body of work is also muddied by inconsistent operationalizations of constructs and a lack of an organizing framework. For instance, rewards have been popularly discussed and implemented as tools for incentivizing employees to perform. However, research has produced mixed findings regarding its effects on knowledge sharing behavior in organizations. There has also been a variety of different rewards examined without clear consistency in the results.

The present study addressed several research needs of this area. First, two separate samples were used to assess the psychometric properties (i.e., reliability and factor structure) of new measurement instruments developed for rewards, knowledge sharing behavior, and organizational learning culture. Item content validation was performed with 14 subject matter experts. Scale dimensionality was established using exploratory factor analysis with data from a sample of 230 university students and confirmatory factor analysis with data from a second sample of 569 participants. Hypothesized relationships among dimensions of constructs as well as moderators were examined using regression analyses. Results did not support the popularly conjectured intrinsic versus extrinsic distinction between rewards. Results showed that rewards predicted knowledge asking but did not predict knowledge giving behavior. Non-financial rewards were found to vary in motivational value for knowledge giving depending on an individual’s career stage. Three dimensions of goal orientation exhibited differential relationships with knowledge sharing behavior. Finally, this study demonstrated that the negative relationship between performance avoid orientation and knowledge giving was attenuated in a strong organizational learning culture, providing empirical support for the situational strength theory.

The findings from this work can inform organizational decision makers of how to harness the motivational value of rewards by understanding the career concerns of employees. This work also contributes by identifying person and situation factors that interact to facilitate a crucial kind of informal learning activity, knowledge sharing behavior in organizations.