Exploring the effects of institutional factors on inter-organisational trust and knowledge sharing in the context of collaborative networks
thesisposted on 26.06.2021, 00:33 by Rui Zhao
Collaboration in networks is now widely regarded as a strategy to sustain competitive advantage in an increasing competitive industrial environment (Durugbo, 2016). The importance of knowledge sharing on collaboration has been recognised by the existing literature (Hu et al., 2012). The existing research investigates the role of external institutional factors, such as legal protection and government support in influencing information sharing in the context of Operations Management (Cai et al., 2010). However, there is a lack of research which investigates internal institutional factors and its impact on knowledge sharing (Cerchione and Esposito, 2016). Previous studies have investigated the role of trust in information sharing but the role of interorganisational trust for knowledge sharing remains unexplored. Furthermore, there is no consistent definition and dimension of inter-organisational trust in the context of the collaborative networks due to its complex nature.
To address the research gaps outlined above, this research aims to understand the inter-relationships among the internal institutional factors, inter-organisational trust and knowledge sharing among members in the collaborative networks. In order to achieve the aim, this research attempts to answer the guiding research question of how do internal institutional factors influence inter-organisational trust and knowledge sharing among members in collaborative networks?
A multiple-case (five cases) strategy was employed in this research following an interpretivist logic, to answer the exploratory research question. Theoretical sampling strategy was employed to select case organisations. A total of twenty-five semi-structured interviews, including three to eight interviews from each case organisation, were conducted. The interviews were supplemented with secondary data. Then, the data was coded by the NVivo 11 software package. After that, Braun and Clarke’s (2006) six-step thematic analysis was adapted rigorously to generate themes from the data set. A cross comparative study was employed for in-depth analysis of results.
The theoretical contribution of this research is three-fold. First, ten dimensions of inter-organisational trust in the context of collaborative networks have been identified from the in-depth analysis of data. This contribution answers the call proposed by Whipple et al. (2013) to avoid using definitions and dimensions of trust from previous studies. Second, this research contributes to the existing literature through developing a model to show how different dimensions of trust influence sharing of different type of knowledge at the different stages in the life cycle of a collaborative network. To illustrate collaborative network, both the virtual breeding environment and collaboration in the supply chain have been considered in this research. The model integrates and extends the findings of Chen et al.’s (2014) dynamic process of trust development and Camarinha-Matos et al.’s (2009) life cycle of a collaborative network. Third, a theoretical framework was developed in this research to explain how internal institutional factors matter in inter-organisational trust and knowledge sharing in the context of collaborative networks. The institutional theory was employed to explain the interrelationships among the internal institutional factors, inter-organisational trust and knowledge sharing.
Furthermore, this research also highlights practical contributions from two perspectives. First, it is suggested that practitioners in collaborative networks should be aware of the ten factors facilitating inter-organisational trust building with partners at the different stages of the life cycle of collaborative networks. Second, it also suggests that practitioners should pay more attention to the role of management support in each member in knowledge sharing and highlights the necessity of enrolling continuous KS-specific training in the networks.
Finally, the limitations of this research are provided along with recommendations for future research in the area of knowledge sharing in the context of collaborative networks.
- Business and Economics