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The mediating role of affective commitment in the rewards–knowledge transfer relation

Victor Martin-Perez (Business Department, University of Valladolid, Valladolid, Spain)
Natalia Martin-Cruz (Department of Business, University of Valladolid, Valladolid, Spain)

Journal of Knowledge Management

ISSN: 1367-3270

Article publication date: 12 October 2015




The purpose of this paper is to assess the relative importance of intrinsic and extrinsic rewards as determinants of affective commitment and the influence of employees’ affective commitment on knowledge transfer in the context of a Spanish social firm.


Using data from a sample of 227 employees working for a Spanish social firm, this study employs the partial least squares approach to test the research hypotheses.


The research findings show that contrary to the findings of prior empirical studies, reward systems do not influence knowledge transfer in a direct way. Rather, reward systems act indirectly through the development of affective commitment, which is required to increase employees’ loyalty, reduce their turnover levels and improve their willingness to transfer their knowledge.

Research limitations/implications

This research focuses on a Spanish social firm, and recommendations to other organizations should, therefore, be made with caution. However, this study provides interesting empirical insights, linking rewards systems and knowledge transfer by means of affective commitment in the context of a social firm.

Practical implications

Besides the importance of promoting knowledge transfer through the creation of a suitable climate in the organization, the authors recommend that managers cultivate employees’ affective commitment by means of reward systems, especially intrinsic rewards. Employees with increased affective commitment are more prone to transfer the knowledge that they possess, and consequently, the potential loss of tacit knowledge for the organization is reduced if these employees leave the organization. Also, the authors suggest that managers make an effort to create a balanced reward system, so that extrinsic and intrinsic rewards can act as complementary processes to develop a high level of affective commitment among employees.


Few empirical studies have analyzed the influence of affective commitment on knowledge transfer, especially in the context of a social firm, even though this type of firms play and increasingly important economic and social role in society.



The second author appreciates funds received from the Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad (Plan Nacional de I+D+i) of Spain [ECO2012-32075].


Martin-Perez, V. and Martin-Cruz, N. (2015), "The mediating role of affective commitment in the rewards–knowledge transfer relation", Journal of Knowledge Management, Vol. 19 No. 6, pp. 1167-1185.



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