Interpersonal Similarity and Knowledge Sharing within Multinational Organizations

Kristiina Mäkelä, Ulf Andersson, Tomi Seppälä

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

    Abstract

    Previous research has established that interpersonal similarity can influence knowledge sharing in such a way that similar people are more likely to share knowledge than those who are dissimilar. We contribute to the literature by showing that in the MNC context, cultural and functional similarity can become more powerful sources of bias than more commonly assumed demographic characteristics such as gender or seniority. This may be driven by the salience of such boundaries in the MNC: while demographic characteristics are more broadly distributed, cultural and functional barriers create more defined and observable faultlines, often coinciding with unit boundaries. We further argue that it may not be similarity as such that matters but rather its positive impact on different dimensions of social capital, which mediate the relationship between similarity and knowledge sharing. These microfoundations of inter-unit knowledge exchange point to important theoretical and practical implications for international management.
    Previous research has established that interpersonal similarity can influence knowledge sharing in such a way that similar people are more likely to share knowledge than those who are dissimilar. We contribute to the literature by showing that in the MNC context, cultural and functional similarity can become more powerful sources of bias than more commonly assumed demographic characteristics such as gender or seniority. This may be driven by the salience of such boundaries in the MNC: while demographic characteristics are more broadly distributed, cultural and functional barriers create more defined and observable faultlines, often coinciding with unit boundaries. We further argue that it may not be similarity as such that matters but rather its positive impact on different dimensions of social capital, which mediate the relationship between similarity and knowledge sharing. These microfoundations of inter-unit knowledge exchange point to important theoretical and practical implications for international management.
    LanguageEnglish
    JournalInternational Business Review
    Volume21
    Issue number3
    Pages439-51
    Number of pages13
    ISSN0969-5931
    DOIs
    StatePublished - 2012

    Keywords

    • Homophily
    • Interpersonal Similarity
    • Knowledge Sharing
    • Microfoundations
    • Multinational Corporations
    • Social Capital

    Cite this

    Mäkelä, Kristiina ; Andersson, Ulf ; Seppälä, Tomi. / Interpersonal Similarity and Knowledge Sharing within Multinational Organizations. In: International Business Review. 2012 ; Vol. 21, No. 3. pp. 439-51
    @article{f32dae492bf24fcda3d9529cac933f4b,
    title = "Interpersonal Similarity and Knowledge Sharing within Multinational Organizations",
    abstract = "Previous research has established that interpersonal similarity can influence knowledge sharing in such a way that similar people are more likely to share knowledge than those who are dissimilar. We contribute to the literature by showing that in the MNC context, cultural and functional similarity can become more powerful sources of bias than more commonly assumed demographic characteristics such as gender or seniority. This may be driven by the salience of such boundaries in the MNC: while demographic characteristics are more broadly distributed, cultural and functional barriers create more defined and observable faultlines, often coinciding with unit boundaries. We further argue that it may not be similarity as such that matters but rather its positive impact on different dimensions of social capital, which mediate the relationship between similarity and knowledge sharing. These microfoundations of inter-unit knowledge exchange point to important theoretical and practical implications for international management.",
    keywords = "Homophily, Interpersonal Similarity, Knowledge Sharing, Microfoundations, Multinational Corporations, Social Capital",
    author = "Kristiina M{\"a}kel{\"a} and Ulf Andersson and Tomi Sepp{\"a}l{\"a}",
    note = "Available online 8 June 2011",
    year = "2012",
    doi = "10.1016/j.ibusrev.2011.05.003",
    language = "English",
    volume = "21",
    pages = "439--51",
    journal = "International Business Review",
    issn = "0969-5931",
    publisher = "Pergamon Press",
    number = "3",

    }

    Interpersonal Similarity and Knowledge Sharing within Multinational Organizations. / Mäkelä, Kristiina; Andersson, Ulf; Seppälä, Tomi.

    In: International Business Review, Vol. 21, No. 3, 2012, p. 439-51.

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

    TY - JOUR

    T1 - Interpersonal Similarity and Knowledge Sharing within Multinational Organizations

    AU - Mäkelä,Kristiina

    AU - Andersson,Ulf

    AU - Seppälä,Tomi

    N1 - Available online 8 June 2011

    PY - 2012

    Y1 - 2012

    N2 - Previous research has established that interpersonal similarity can influence knowledge sharing in such a way that similar people are more likely to share knowledge than those who are dissimilar. We contribute to the literature by showing that in the MNC context, cultural and functional similarity can become more powerful sources of bias than more commonly assumed demographic characteristics such as gender or seniority. This may be driven by the salience of such boundaries in the MNC: while demographic characteristics are more broadly distributed, cultural and functional barriers create more defined and observable faultlines, often coinciding with unit boundaries. We further argue that it may not be similarity as such that matters but rather its positive impact on different dimensions of social capital, which mediate the relationship between similarity and knowledge sharing. These microfoundations of inter-unit knowledge exchange point to important theoretical and practical implications for international management.

    AB - Previous research has established that interpersonal similarity can influence knowledge sharing in such a way that similar people are more likely to share knowledge than those who are dissimilar. We contribute to the literature by showing that in the MNC context, cultural and functional similarity can become more powerful sources of bias than more commonly assumed demographic characteristics such as gender or seniority. This may be driven by the salience of such boundaries in the MNC: while demographic characteristics are more broadly distributed, cultural and functional barriers create more defined and observable faultlines, often coinciding with unit boundaries. We further argue that it may not be similarity as such that matters but rather its positive impact on different dimensions of social capital, which mediate the relationship between similarity and knowledge sharing. These microfoundations of inter-unit knowledge exchange point to important theoretical and practical implications for international management.

    KW - Homophily

    KW - Interpersonal Similarity

    KW - Knowledge Sharing

    KW - Microfoundations

    KW - Multinational Corporations

    KW - Social Capital

    U2 - 10.1016/j.ibusrev.2011.05.003

    DO - 10.1016/j.ibusrev.2011.05.003

    M3 - Journal article

    VL - 21

    SP - 439

    EP - 451

    JO - International Business Review

    T2 - International Business Review

    JF - International Business Review

    SN - 0969-5931

    IS - 3

    ER -