Social capital and tacit knowledge sharing in organisational projects in Malaysian ICT companies


An increasing number of organisational researchers have turned to social capital theory in an attempt to better understand the impetus for knowledge sharing at the individual and organisational level. This thesis extends that research by investigating the impact of social capital on knowledge sharing at the group-level in the organisational project context. The objective of the thesis is to investigate the importance of social capital in fostering tacit knowledge sharing among the team members of a project. The analytical focus is on the Nahapiet and Ghoshal framework of social capital but also includes elements of other scholars' work. In brief, social capital is defined as an asset that is embedded in the network of relationships possessed by an individual or social unit. It is argued that the main dimensions of social capital that are of relevance to knowledge sharing are structural, cognitive, and relational because these, among other things, foster the exchange and combination of knowledge and resources among the team members. Empirically, the study is based on the grounded theory method. Data were collected from five projects in large, medium, and small ICT companies in Malaysia. Underpinned by the constant comparative method, data were derived from 55 interviews, and observations. The data were analysed using open, axial, and selective coding. The analysis also involved counting frequency occurrence from the coding generated by grounded theory to find the important items and categories under social capital dimensions and knowledge sharing, and for further explaining sub-groups within the data. The analysis shows that the most important dimension for tacit knowledge sharing is structural capital. Most importantly, the findings also suggest that structural capital is a prerequisite of cognitive capital and relational capital at the group-level in an organisational project. It also found that in a project context, relational capital is hard to realise because it requires time and frequent interactions among the team members. The findings from quantitative analysis show that frequent meetings and interactions, relationship, positions, shared visions, shared objectives, and collaboration are among the factors that foster the sharing of tacit knowledge among the team members. In conclusion, the present study adds to the existing literature on social capital in two main ways. Firstly, it distinguishes the dimensions of social capital and identifies that structural capital is the most important dimension in social capital and it is a prerequisite of cognitive and relational capital in a project context. Secondly, it identifies the causal sequence in the dimension of social capital suggesting avenues for further theoretical and empirical work in this emerging area of inquiry.

Divisions: College of Business and Social Sciences > Aston Business School > Operations & Information Management
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Institution: Aston University
Uncontrolled Keywords: Social capital,knowledge sharing,tacit knowledge,group project,Malaysia
Last Modified: 08 Dec 2023 08:38
Date Deposited: 07 Mar 2011 12:10
Completed Date: 2008-06
Authors: Mat Isa, Rosmah


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