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Idiosyncratic job-design practices for cultivating personal knowledge management among knowledge workers in organizations

Muhammad Shujahat (KM&EL Lab, Faculty of Education, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China)
Minhong Wang (Minhong Wang is based at the KM&EL Lab, Faculty of Education, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China and Department of Educational Information Technology, East China Normal University, Shanghai, China)
Murad Ali (Department of HRM, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia)
Anum Bibi (Department of Management Science, COMSATS University Islamabad, Wah Campus, Islamabad, Pakistan)
Shahid Razzaq (Basic Health Unit, Khura Khail, District Attock, Government of Punjab Health Department, Lahore, Pakistan)
Susanne Durst (Department of Business Administration, Tallinn University of Technology, Tallinn, Estonia)

Journal of Knowledge Management

ISSN: 1367-3270

Article publication date: 21 September 2020

Issue publication date: 24 May 2021

Abstract

Purpose

The high turnover rate of knowledge workers presents a challenge to both organizational and personal knowledge management. Although personal knowledge management plays an important role in organizational knowledge management, empirical research on the practices for its application is underdeveloped. This study aims to examine the role of idiosyncratic job-design practices (i.e. job definition, job autonomy, innovation as a job requirement and lifelong learning orientation) in cultivating personal knowledge management among knowledge workers in organizations, to increase their productivity and safeguard the organization against knowledge loss arising from knowledge workers’ interfirm mobility.

Design/methodology/approach

Data were collected from 221 knowledge workers pursuing various knowledge-intensive jobs through a questionnaire survey and were analysed using partial least squares modelling.

Findings

The results demonstrated that three job-design practices (job definition, innovation as a job requirement and lifelong learning orientation) have a positive impact on personal knowledge management among knowledge workers and thus improve their productivity. However, job autonomy can affect personal knowledge management negatively.

Research limitations/implications

The findings are confined to a specific context and should be replicated across different contexts for better generalizability in future research.

Practical implications

Organizational managers should pay attention to (re)designing knowledge-intensive jobs to cultivate personal knowledge management by clearly outlining job responsibilities, offering opportunities to add relevant job activities and drop irrelevant ones, and making innovation and lifelong learning a formal job requirement. In addition, job autonomy should be judiciously provided along with sufficient social and network support to avoid lost opportunities in knowledge creation and sharing, and should be linked to job responsibilities and performance appraisals to avoid negative effects.

Originality/value

The high turnover rate of knowledge workers presents a challenge to both organizational and personal knowledge management. This study contributes to the literature by addressing the research gap in two aspects. Firstly, based on Drucker’s theory, this study identifies four idiosyncratic job-design practices (job definition, job autonomy, innovation as a job requirement and lifelong learning orientation) that reflect the distinctive characteristics of knowledge-intensive work. Secondly, this study examines whether and how these practices can cultivate personal knowledge management among knowledge workers, which can support their productivity.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This project is supported by the General Research Fund from the Research Grants Council of the Hong Kong SAR Government (Project No. 17201415), National Natural Science Foundation of China (Project No. 61977023), and Eastern Scholar Chair Professorship Fund (No. JZ2017005) from the Shanghai Municipal Education Commission of China. The authors thank Professor Haijing Jiang for his valuable support for this project.

Citation

Shujahat, M., Wang, M., Ali, M., Bibi, A., Razzaq, S. and Durst, S. (2021), "Idiosyncratic job-design practices for cultivating personal knowledge management among knowledge workers in organizations", Journal of Knowledge Management, Vol. 25 No. 4, pp. 770-795. https://doi.org/10.1108/JKM-03-2020-0232

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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