A problem for many organisations today is what is referred to as the “knowing‐doing gap” or the difference between possessing the knowledge and the actual application of it. This paper aims to explore the perception that differences exist with regard to soft or tacit knowledge‐knowing and utilisation in the IT workplace, but at the level of gender and ethnic‐culture specifically. Through a statistical examination of electronic survey results from two ICT organisations in Australia, the study explores the validity of such claims.
Continuing from previous grounded theory research, a series of workplace scenarios testing for such knowledge utilisation were created. After trialling the initial scenarios on a pilot population, they were further refined and made part of an online survey questionnaire. Some 119 employees of two Australian ICT organisations rated how they would deal with soft knowledge situations both in principle and in practice. The sample was not selected along gender or cultural lines beforehand; however statistical analysis was conducted to determine if differences to situation‐handling existed.
The paper provides empirical insights into how genders and cultures deal with soft knowledge situations in different ways. The findings do tend to support certain stereotypes such as females generally appearing more passive, relationship and high context oriented and less individualistic. Whilst males appeared more achievement‐oriented and individualistic, Anglo‐males were closer to females for relationship and high context ideals.
Due to the limited sample size the research results may lack generalisability. Furthermore criticism of Likert scales also exists, as does the use of language other than English as a representation of ethnic culture.
The study adopts a novel use of soft knowledge inventories when applied to the parameters of gender and culture.
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