Contextualizing AMO Explanations of Knowledge Sharing in MNEs: The Role of Organizational and National Culture.

VerfasserGooderham, Paul N.
PostenRESEARCH ARTICLE - Ability, motivation, and opportunity, multinational enterprises

2 Theoretical Framework

Enabling the geographical mobility of knowledge that is at least partially tacit, and is embodied in individuals' skills and organizational practices is a key challenge for MNEs (Grant & Phene, 2022). Knowledge sharing with colleagues in other BUs requires deliberate behaviors on the part of the sender and the receiver (Felin & Hesterly, 2007; Foss & Pedersen, 2004; Foss et al., 2009; Gupta & Govindarajan, 2000; McDermott, 1999). Our contextualized approach to AMO points not just to individual-level factors but also to organizational and national-level factors that condition these behaviors (Gaur et al., 2019).

Given the need to avoid silo mentalities, various management fields have invested in identifying factors that are salient for enhancing knowledge sharing at the individual level (Cabrera et al., 2006; Gagne, 2009; Reinholt et al., 2011). As Edwards et al. (2013) argue, a consensus is emerging that the human resource (HR) factors that promote employee performance in general can be conceptualized according to the AMO framework (Appelbaum et al., 2000; Boselie et al., 2005; Paauwe, 2009). This framework can be traced back to Blumberg and Pringle's (1982, p. 564) critique of theories of individual job performance, which accounted for individuals' abilities and motivations but failed to acknowledge that "behavior also depends on the help or hindrance of uncontrollable events and actors in one's environment. States of nature and actions of others are combined into a general category labeled opportunity." In the work context, opportunities for knowledge sharing are often divided into formal, structural factors directly controllable by management and intangible, relational factors that emerge and form a platform for social interaction (Sterling & Boxall, 2013).

A number of studies that apply the AMO framework have provided insights into how individuals' abilities and motivations affect knowledge sharing (e.g., Cabrera et al., 2006; Reinholt et al., 2011; Wang et al., 2014). Some of these studies have also investigated how individuals' perceptions of organizational opportunities affect knowledge-sharing behavior (Cabrera et al., 2006; Foss et al., 2009; Gagne, 2009). However, these studies ignore the organizational and national contexts of individual behavior and, thus, the simplicity of the model becomes a major limitation that might lead to biased estimates.

We address these shortcomings by applying a multilevel contextualized approach to the AMO framework. Not only do we examine the effects of individual-level AMO constructs on knowledge sharing, but we are also sensitive to the direct and cross-level moderating effects of the organizational and national collaborative cultural contexts.

2.1 Ability as an Individual Competence

Within the AMO framework, the concept of "ability" generally has no precise meaning beyond necessary skills (Bailey, 1993; Boselie et al., 2005), which may include formal and informal training and education (Appelbaum et al., 2000). In his framework of human resources in organizations, Nordhaug (1998) proposes the concept of work-related competences among individual employees that go beyond immediate task specificity and that span both firm and industry specificities. Cabrera et al. (2006) employ the concept of individual competence. They view high levels of individual competence as associated with a knowledge base that comprises tacit and explicit elements. In addition, they include cognitive processes comprising attention and memory that facilitate understanding and knowledge absorption in face-to-face peer interactions, which means that being a highcompetency individual involves collegial acknowledgement.

Thus, rather than the somewhat tenuous notion of ability, we employ the concept of individual competence. This equates not only to formal education but also to job-related skills (Appelbaum, et al., 2000; Bello-Pintado, 2015; Jiang et al., 2012; Williams & Lee, 2016). In addition to general work experience, incompany management training is an important source of job-related skills. Furthermore, this concept of competence includes an element of collegial recognition of the expertise of those individuals as holders of superior and valuable competences.

Thus, we accept that competence is a source of self-efficacy (Bandura, 1997; Cabrera & Cabrera, 2005) that enhances individuals' sense of confidence in their own knowledge base, which in turn supports knowledge-sharing behaviors (Cabrera & Cabrera, 2005). At the same time, we emphasize that individuals with high levels of competence have valuable knowledge to share--a fact that must also be recognized by their colleagues (Szulanski, 1996; Yildiz et al., 2019). Thus, colleagues be [Text incomplete in original source.]

[Text incomplete in original source.] argue that intrinsic motivation is sensitive to the degree to which a department's culture is collaborative.

We contend that intrinsic motivation is affected by the individual's perception of departmental values and norms--that is, by what is considered acceptable and expected behavior within the departments (De Long & Fahey, 2000). Thus, in the context of collaborative departmental cultures that are characterized by dynamics of trust and supportive and reciprocal behaviors among departmental members (Cabrera & Cabrera, 2005; Wang et al., 2014), intrinsically motivated employees find validation for their inclination to engage in knowledge sharing. This positively reinforces the willingness of intrinsically motivated employees to share knowledge (Foss & Lindenberg, 2013; Gottschalg & Zollo, 2007; Minbaeva et al., 2012; Ryan & Deci, 2000b). In short, when these two factors are aligned, they reinforce each other so that intrinsically motivated individuals who are located in departments with collaborative organizational cultures are particularly likely to engage in knowledge sharing. As such, in addition to the main effects of the organization's collaborative culture on knowledge sharing, we propose that the departmental cultural context supports the positive effect of individual-level intrinsic motivation on knowledge sharing. This leads us to the following hypothesis:

(H2b) The department's collaborative culture reinforces the positive relation between the intrinsic motivation of individuals and their frequency of knowledge sharing across BUs. 2.5 The National Cultural Context

We now turn to the role of national culture. Like Hofstede (1991), Rode et al. (2016) argue that a national culture consists of shared mental programs that exist within a nation's population and that these programs shape individuals' basic assumptions and cognition. In the context of individuals' knowledge sharing with colleagues in other BUs, we focus on the specific aspects of culture that are conducive to this form of prosocial behavior.

Thomas et al. (2016) theorize that individuals in more individualistic cultures have a more transactional, less reciprocal approach to relationships. Similarly, Gelfand et al.'s (2004) observations suggest that low levels of individualism are particularly salient for prosocial behavior. They argue that research has shown that "patterns of...

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