ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2015, Vol. 47 ›› Issue (4): 545-554.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2015.00545

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Group Members’ Status and Knowledge Sharing Behavior: A Motivational Perspective

HU Qiongjing1; XIE Xiaoyun2   

  1. (1 Guanghua School of Management, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China) (2 School of Management, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou 310058, China)
  • Received:2014-01-27 Published:2015-04-25 Online:2015-04-25
  • Contact: XIE Xiaoyun, E-mail:


Knowledge sharing has long been recognized as an effective way of making full use of the information and knowledge owned by group members. Although there are still few studies in exploring the relationship between status and knowledge sharing, extant literature has demonstrated contradictory conclusions concerning the effect of status. From a motivational perspective, this study aimed to explore how status would influence group members’ knowledge sharing behavior under different circumstances. Specifically, we speculated that the effect of status on group members’ knowledge sharing behavior was contingent on status stability within groups. When the difference in status was stable, high-status members would demonstrate more knowledge sharing behavior than low-status members. However, when the status difference was unstable, the condition would be reversed. Furthermore, we posited that the extent to which a group member would be influenced by status might depend on his or her concern for status. We predicted that individual status, status stability, and concern for status would have a three-way interaction effect on group members’ knowledge sharing behavior. A 2 (Status: high vs. low) × 2 (Status stability: stable vs. unstable) between-group experiment was conducted to test our hypotheses. A total of 113 college students participated in the experiment and were directed to finish two tests on a computer program. Each participant had two simulated teammates. After the first round of test, “artificial” performance was fed back to each participant. In the second round, each participant was given 12 chances to share answers with his or her teammates. After the test, they were asked to fill out a questionnaire on the computer. In this study, we used performance rating to manipulate individual status in groups and manipulated status stability by changing the task type in the second round of test. Knowledge sharing behavior was measured by the times each participant agreed to share his or her answer. We used SPSS 17.0 to analyze our data. Most of our hypotheses were supported by the results. First, status stability would interact with individual status to have a significant effect on group members’ knowledge sharing behavior. F-test showed that in a high status stability condition, high-status members demonstrated more knowledge sharing behavior than low-status members did. However, in a low status stability condition, low-status members tended to share more knowledge with others than high-status members did. It was also revealed that high-status members were more likely to share their knowledge when the status difference was stable than when it was unstable condition. In addition, when the status difference was stable within group, individual’s concern for status would interact with one’s status to impact his or her knowledge sharing behavior, such that the more concern the low-status members had for their status, the less they would share their knowledge within the group. Overall, we discuss individual’s dual motives at different status levels as well as the relationship between group members’ status and knowledge sharing behavior. It contributes to the literature in the following ways. First, it optimizes ecological validity of group study and makes a contribution to explore the interaction process within group. Second, by introducing status stability as a contextual factor, we integrate contradictory theories and develop a more comprehensive understanding of the effect of status. What is more, we supplement the study of status by investigating status from a motivational perspective. The findings have practical implications for group knowledge management.

Key words: motive, group member’s status, knowledge sharing, status stability, concern for status