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The influence of employee motivation on

knowledge transfer
Natalia Martn Cruz, Vctor Martn Perez and Celina Trevilla Cantero

Purpose The purpose of this paper is to examine the effect of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation as
determinants of the employees knowledge transfer in the context of a Spanish non-profit organization
(named Asprona).
Design/methodology/approach A case study method was used to analyze a Spanish non-profit
organization (Asprona). In this context, a qualitative and quantitative analysis with a sample of 76 people
was performed using the partial least squares approach (PLS), in order to test the research hypotheses.
Findings The research findings show that, in Asprona, knowledge transfer improves through intrinsic
motivation, however extrinsic motivation is not significant on knowledge transfer. This result is interesting
bearing in mind that people are involved with a non-profit organization due to intrinsic reasons rather
than for financial rewards.
Research limitations/implications This research is focused on one organization Aspronas
assistance area and recommendations to other non-profit organizations must, therefore, be very
Natalia Martn Cruz, cautious.
Vctor Martn Perez and Practical implications Besides the importance to promote knowledge transfer through intrinsic
Celina Trevilla Cantero are motivation in non-profit organizations, the authors recommend managers to design the mechanisms to
all based at the University of convert tacit knowledge into explicit knowledge, to guarantee that knowledge remains in the
Valladolid, Valladolid, organization. Also, the authors consider that managers in profit organizations can find these
Spain. suggestions useful in their context, due to the organizations commitment that is created by means of
intrinsic motivation.
Originality/value Few empirical studies have been developed in the non-profit sector, even though it
has an important economical and social role in society.
Keywords Motivation (psychology), Voluntary organizations, Knowledge transfer
Paper type Research paper

1. Introduction
Knowledge transfer within an organization enables employees to work together efficiently,
and, thus, is essential to efficient management. Thus, managers are motivated to maximize
knowledge transfer among their employees not only to generate extrinsic motivation results,
such as a high quality of personal and professional life, but also to develop intrinsically held
ideals, such as a strong commitment to the organization that allows them to visualize their
professional development with greater autonomy inside a pleasant work environment and in
line with their ethical and moral values. According, managers should encourage their
employees to transfer knowledge as a means to enhance their organizations efficiency.
Within non-profit organizations, stakeholders tend to have a higher degree of intrinsic
motivation because, traditionally, compensation levels are below market average and
non-profit employees are more likely to report that their work is more important to them than
the money they earn (Mirvis and Hackett, 1983). Thus, among non-profit organizations,
knowledge transfer is not solely the product of extrinsic motivation traditionally considered

PAGE 478 j JOURNAL OF KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT j VOL. 13 NO. 6 2009, pp. 478-490, Q Emerald Group Publishing Limited, ISSN 1367-3270 DOI 10.1108/13673270910997132
by organizational literature because individuals have a high degree of intrinsic motivation
and, perhaps, even a limited degree of extrinsic motivation.
Although theoretical literature recognizes the importance of both intrinsic and extrinsic
motivation, no significant body of empirical research has evaluated the effect of the
difference between extrinsic and intrinsic motivation factors on employee knowledge
transfer behaviors (Lin, 2007). Following the knowledge-based view of the firm, this study
examines the importance of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation as determinants of the
employees knowledge transfer. An empirical analysis in a non-profit organization context
due to the relevance of intrinsic motivation in these types of organizations is performed.
The remainder of the paper is organized as follows. Section 2 discusses the influence of
intrinsic and extrinsic motivation on knowledge transfer, based on prior literature. Section 3
explains the methodology and case study and develops the empirical measures of the
variables. Section 4 presents the results and main findings of the empirical analysis. Section
5 provides conclusions, and discusses limitations of the study as well as implications for
future research.

2. Intrinsic and extrinsic motivation as knowledge transfer facilitators

Most individuals desire more from their jobs than simple extrinsic compensation. They may
be motivated by numerous factors such as a pleasant work environment where they can
apply all their capacities and collaborate with interesting people, working in an atmosphere
of mutual respect, the possibility of experiencing feelings of accomplishment and
self-respect when they perform well, the provisions for adequate leisure time, feelings of
power and prestige, a low-stress, slower pace of work, or involvement with an organization
that has values and goals similar to their own. As such, intrinsic motivation is not necessarily
controllable by the organization; however, non-profits may use it to support self-selection
and processes of attracting committed employees (Handy and Katz, 1998; Roomkin and
Weisbrod, 1999; Merchant et al., 2003) for whom intrinsic rewards are an important source of
motivation. Thus, non-profit employees may be intrinsically motivated to share their
knowledge related to their own individual learning processes (Huysman and de Wit, 2004) or
because they expect or hope for reciprocity, that is, that others will also share knowledge
that may be useful to them (Hendriks, 1999). As Tampoe (1996) notes, knowledge-transfer
workers are influenced by personal growth, operational autonomy, and task achievement
rather than by financial rewards. Moreover, Ryan and Deci (2000) recognize that feelings of
competence will not enhance intrinsic motivation unless they are accompanied by a sense of
autonomy, thus people must not only experience perceived competence (or self-efficacy),
they must also experience their behavior to be self-determined if intrinsic motivation is to be
maintained or enhanced.
These strong connections to factors beyond extrinsic rewards show the considerable
influence that intrinsic motivation exerts over knowledge transfer, thus improving individuals
propensity to share their knowledge with other organizational members and facilitating
learning processes, which are vital issues at a time when the ability to learn more and learn
faster than ones competitors is often an organizations only sustainable competitive
advantage (Slater and Narver, 1995).
Intrinsic motivation is, therefore, a powerful tool to overcome barriers that hinder knowledge
transfer among employees. Specifically, intrinsic motivation enables the development of
informal groups outside formal organizational structures and allows rapid problem solving,
the transfer of improved practices, and the development of professional abilities. Likewise,
intrinsic motivation may help to achieve a more productive balance between individual
competition and collaboration, because it favors a greater level of cooperation; namely,
higher knowledge transfer induced by higher intrinsic motivation reduces excessive
competition that hinders apprenticeship and collaboration (Kofman and Senge, 1993).
Furthermore, intrinsic motivation promotes a working environment that expedites both formal
and informal communication, which entails greater transfer and acquisition of knowledge as
well as the development of behaviors that strengthen organizational learning (Slater and

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Narver, 1995). Intrinsic motivation may also increase employees commitment to the
organization because it creates a desire for self-improvement as a means to support the
organization, bringing about the development of learn to learn capabilities. In the same
way, intrinsic motivation helps eradicate a lack of work-related challenges, because the
increment of responsibilities increases the necessity of knowledge sharing. In the same
manner, intrinsic motivation favors decision making consensus, which requires a significant
commitment among different groups of employees (Walsh, 1995). Also, intrinsic motivation
combats the external enemy syndrome[1], therefore, individuals who feel secure in their
job positions will analyze the causes of an existing problem, collect the required knowledge,
and propose a solution without fear of retribution. Finally, the commitment to the organization
and personal development distinctive features of intrinsic motivation make it easier to
emerge employees mental models and explore and analyze them to observe how they
influence individuals behavior within the organization by removing negative aspects and
creating new, better functioning models.
Thus, intrinsic motivation performs two significant roles in the knowledge transfer process.
First, it is a reward of the process itself, and, second, it promotes individual participation in
the knowledge transfer process (Lucas and Ogilvie, 2006). Specifically, intrinsic motivation
enables the generation and transfer of knowledge under conditions in which extrinsic
motivation fails (Osterloh and Frey, 2000). As McDermott and ODell (2001) point out,
organizations that recognize their employees efforts, abilities, and accomplishments
provide intrinsic motivation for them to transfer their knowledge, thus leading to the first
H1. The higher the intrinsic motivation an employee has, the more the knowledge the
employee is willing to transfer.

On the other hand, extrinsic motivation is considered as the set of monetary rewards both
direct (e.g. wages, incentives, bonus) and indirect (e.g. time not worked, training,
contributions to employees benefit plans such as medical dental and life insurance, fringe
benefits, expense account, and other allowances) that individuals receive in exchange for
their job. These external incentives motivate employees to perform valuable tasks for the
organization (Prendergast, 1999; Bonner and Sprinkle, 2002). Employees are extrinsically
motivated if they are able to satisfy their needs indirectly, especially through monetary
compensation. It is quite possible that greater emphasis on monetary incentives will begin to
attract individuals who value economic wealth more highly (Perry and Porter, 1982). That is,
money is a goal which provides satisfaction irrespective of the actual activity itself
(Osterloh and Frey, 2000, p. 2). Although these organizational rewards may provide
temporary incentives for knowledge sharing, they are not a fundamental force in forming
employees knowledge-sharing behaviors (Lin, 2007).
However, the literature is not in full agreement on the effectiveness of extrinsic motivation on
the transfer of knowledge. Lucas and Ogilvie (2006) recognize that prior research on
knowledge transfer and extrinsic motivation suggests a significant and positive relation
between these variables, even though they find no support in their study for the role of
extrinsic motivation on knowledge transfer. Bock et al. (2005) find that extrinsic rewards exert
a negative effect on an individuals knowledge-sharing attitudes and that expected
organizational rewards do not significantly influence employee attitudes and behavioral
intentions regarding knowledge sharing (Lin, 2007). Osterloh and Frey (2000) point out that
the generation and transfer of knowledge are more important for intrinsically motivated
employees than for those extrinsically motivated. Finally, in her quantitative survey, Burgess
(2005) finds that employees who perceive greater organizational rewards for knowledge
sharing spend more hours sharing knowledge beyond their immediate teammates.
In this study, the authors suggest that a crowding-out effect does not exist between
extrinsic and intrinsic motivations and that a positive relation between extrinsic motivation
and knowledge transfer exists because to transfer knowledge, employees need to feel that
the organization provides something concrete and meaningful to them something that
provides quality of life and not simply membership and recognition. Several organizations

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Intrinsic motivation is a powerful tool to overcome barriers
that hinder knowledge transfer among employees.

have designed reward systems to encourage employees to share their knowledge with
others (Bartol and Srivastava, 2002), because willingness to share usually depends on
reciprocity. The idea is that individuals are motivated through commitment and that
compensation is used as a fair exchange (Hall, 2001). Accordingly, employees who feel
adequately rewarded will develop a strong commitment to the organization, will remain for
extended periods of time, and will create and transfer knowledge among themselves, thus
improving their performance. Rewards also play a role in such a knowledge-sharing
mechanism in that the perceived fairness of reward system assists in the development of
trust between an individual and the organization (Bartol and Srivastava, 2002). Hansen et al.
(2002) suggest that an important aspect of rewards is the instrumentality, that it is simply a
means to an end or an in order to relationship. Thus, extrinsic motivation may lead to
employees to need to voluntarily transfer their knowledge.
The authors suggest that, even though extrinsic rewards may not be the primary motivation
for knowledge transfer, they can be a powerful tool for generating a baseline commitment to
the organization, because employees must first satisfy their financial needs to sustain a
good quality of life. Therefore, if they are satisfied with the extrinsic rewards provided by their
organization, they will be more productive and creative, able to take the initiative, and
ultimately, ready and willing to transfer their knowledge to others within the organization.
Accordingly, the second hypothesis is proposed:
H2. The higher the extrinsic motivation an employee has, the more the knowledge the
employee is willing to transfer.

3. Methodology
The case study (Yin, 2003) is used as method of analysis to reach the proposed goal of the
research. Taking into account that this analysis requires detailed information about each
individual and the authorization of the non-profits management to acquire it as well as the
specific hypotheses proposed about the relation between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation
and knowledge transfer- the research nature is quite explicative (Scapens, 1990).
Following Yin (2003), the authors place a great emphasis on the validity of the internal and
external constructs and the reliability of the research in order to ensure that the relations
between the analyzed variables are correctly based and that the results among the variables
can be generalized to other non-profits (at least, concerning social action or disabilities). The
authors also attempt to ensure that the measures are well-built to assess the defined
variables. Finally, the authors focus on the reliability of the research results that is, that they
are stable, precise, and robust (i.e. we repeatedly obtain the same results with other
interviews, other surveys, and over different periods of time).
Furthermore, to restrict the researchs complexity, the three dimensions through which a
case complexity is valuated were balanced. In this way, the authors focus on one
organization, take the employee as unit of analysis, and perform an intra-organizational
In the case study, a Spanish non-profit association (Asprona), which cares for people with
mental disabilities in the city of Valladolid, Spain, and the surrounding region, was analyzed.
This is a non-profit organization, with a declared social interest and public utility intent,
Asprona was founded in 1962 and has since been working on behalf of people with
intellectual disabilities and their families to improve their quality of life. In the national scope,

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Asprona belongs to the National Confederation of Associations, a lobby group that
combines the forces of these types of non-profit organizations to promote innovative and
efficient initiatives in organization and service provision. Asprona has 1,353 members, 897
employees (of whom 567 are disabled); it takes care of 1,445 people and has 140
volunteers. Throughout its history, Asprona has created and developed an extended
network of services and centers to support and satisfy the multiple needs and requests of its
clients over their life cycle. The activities carried out by the organization to achieve its goals
are structured in three main areas: assistance, labor, and associative[2].

3.1 The assistance area: the sample

Specifically, the information for this study was obtained from the assistance area (270
employees), whose mission is to satisfy the assistance and educative needs and to improve
the quality of life of people with intellectual disabilities and their families through the
promotion and management of social programs and services. The assistance area is
composed of five centers: early care, school services, residential services, day centers and
leisure time and sport services (see Figure 1).
Within Aspronas assistance area, the individual namely, the organizations employees
(primarily psychologists, social workers, social educators, and physiotherapists) is the unit
of analysis. In other words, employees without disabilities who work with people with
disabilities. The final sample consists of 76 employees. Considering that the total pool of
employees from the assistance area is 270, the participation obtained was 28.15 percent.

3.2 Data collection

Multiple information sources were used to obtain the required data from Asprona and carry
out the methodological triangulation to avoid internal validity problems. The data were
collected in two phases: first, the authors decided to accomplish in-depth interviews in order
to gather useful information about non-profits in general, and concretely about Asprona, so,
it would be possible to design the most suitable instrument for data collecting. Accordingly,
the authors performed in-depth interviews with the director of the assistance area, the
directors of the centers and the chairperson, as well as several key employees from different
centers. Furthermore, multiple documents, including the organizations web page, annual
reports and internal operating documents were consulted.
Second, the information concerning knowledge transfer and motivation variables was
gathered through a questionnaire adapted for non-profits (one that could be used in other
organizations to ensure its external validity). A pre-test was previously completed to adapt
the questionnaire to the specificities of the involved organization. Once the pretest phase
was finished, the questionnaire was distributed by the assistance area director to all the
centers. The questionnaire for employees in the assistance area (seven-point Likert scale)

Figure 1 Aspronas internal structure

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B I receive a fixed salary (base salary, complements, etc) for my activity in the organization
(High Powered Incentives)
B The organization recognizes expressly my job (through rewards, mentions in the
organizations magazine, intranet, advertisement board, etc.) (Recognition).
B The organization offers me the possibility for promotion (Promotion).
B The organization offers stability and continuity in my job (Stability).
B My activity in the organization lets me improve as a person, enhance my self-confidence,
get mature, self-accomplish. . . (Self-Confidence).
B I have autonomy in my job and I can contribute with my ideas (Autonomy).
B I consider this organization honest and coherent with its mission (Honesty).
B I have an organizations sense of belonging (I feel myself as an organization member,
loyal and involved to it) (Membership)).
B With my activity in the organization, I learn new things that only my partners know
B With my activity in the organization, I share actively my ideas and opinions (Ideas
B With my activity in the organization, I share actively my knowledge and experience
(Knowledge sharing).
B In general, all the decisions that affect my job are taken by consensus (Consensus).
B With my activity in the organization I have frequent contacts (e-mail, phone, etc. . .) with
other employees (Contacts).
The information obtained through in-depth interviews was quite interesting: the employees
interviewed have been working for the organization for a long time, from 10 to 27 years;
hence, the knowledge and experience they have achieved are both important. The
knowledge transfer is usually generated daily through meetings where ideas, proposals,
and so on emerge and later are transformed into programs and activities. Asprona provides
training to its employees, which provides them skills to perform better in their work with
people with disabilities. However, tacit knowledge conversion into explicit knowledge is not a
systematic process, so, there are employees who do not necessarily create a formalized
structure of knowledge transfer (e.g. writing things down) because it would restrict their
initiative and creativity.
Overall, the interviewed employees are motivated by the ability to collaborate to improve the
quality of life of people with disabilities and their families. Even though they agree that their
salary is lower than the labor market average, the working environment, the possibility to do
something for someone in need, job position autonomy and the freedom to make decisions,
a convenient work schedule, and job flexibility are some of the reasons employees used to
justify their long permanence in the organization. Consequently, the authors claim that
employees interviewed feel committed to Asprona.
Thus, in-depth interviews provided useful information to make a preliminary analysis in
Aspronas assistance area, which was confirmed with the information obtained by means of
the questionnaires.

3.3 Variables
The relevant variables to this study are extrinsic motivation, intrinsic motivation, and
knowledge transfer. To capture the dimensions of these variables, a set of multi-item
instruments that draw on previous empirical research was used. The employees were asked
to rate their degree of agreement with each of the items measured on a Likert-type scale
from 1 (totally disagree) to 7 (totally agree).
When measures to assess possible motivation mechanisms are established, two problems
are encountered: the scarce empirical evidence about this question within the framework of

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Intrinsic motivation is the most important element for
knowledge contribution (sharing and transmitting this
knowledge within the organization to other stakeholders).

non-profit sector and the restrictions that non-profit organizations face in using incentives
both from a social and a practical application point of view to improve their employees
motivation and align their interests with the organization goals because, unlike for-profit
organizations, they cannot offer such incentives as stock grants, profit sharing, or bonuses
linked to sales volume increases or the appreciation of the stock market. For these reasons,
an instrument adapted to the singularities of the organization under analysis was developed,
based on prior empirical research (see for example Cyert and March, 1963; Collins and
Yeager, 1988; Leete, 2000; Zarraga and Bonache, 2003). However, even though these
measures have been previously validated by several authors, a confirmatory factor analysis
to guarantee their validity and reliability was performed.
A construct for extrinsic motivation was developed, which is defined as external rewards, that
includes four items based on prior empirical studies: expense account and allowances linked
to the activity performed (High-powered incentives) (Collins and Yeager, 1988; Finkelstein
and Hambrick, 1989; Balkin and Gomez-Mejia, 1990), labor stability (Stability) (Delaney and
Huselid, 1996), the organizational recognition (Recognition) (Guallino and Prevot, 2008), and
promotion (Promotion) (Challagalla and Shervani, 1996; Delaney and Huselid, 1996).
Intrinsic motivation, identified with the satisfaction that a person receives from his or her
position or work environment, was measured using four items: self-confidence and
self-fulfillment (Self-confidence) (Oliver and Anderson, 1994; Challagalla and Shervani,
1996), involvement and sense of belonging (Membership) (Leete, 2000), the feeling of
working for a honest organization (Honesty) (Robinson, 1996; Tyler, 2003) and, autonomy in
the performance of activities (Autonomy) (Das and Joshi, 2007).
With regard to dependent variables, knowledge transfer was measured using an adapted
version of the Zarraga and Bonache(2003), Bock et al. (2005) and Ko et al. (2005) instruments,
which includes the following items: The employee actively shares ideas and opinions (Ideas
sharing); the employee actively shares knowledge and experiences (Knowledge sharing); the
employee considers that his or her activity in the organization allows him or her to garner new
knowledge from other employees (Learning); the employee keeps in frequent contact with
other colleagues (CONTACTS); and, finally, the employee believes that consensus decision
making commonly influences issues related to his or her job (Consensus).

3.4 Data analysis

A partial least squares approach (PLS) was used to test the research hypotheses. In PLS,
measurement and structural parameters are estimated via an iterative procedure which
combines simple and multiple regression by ordinary least squares (OLS), thus avoiding any
distributional assumption of the observed variables. Moreover, due to the partial nature of
this methodology, where the model parameters are estimated in blocks, the sample size
required in PLS is much smaller. The model in this research includes both latent (measured
with reflective indicators) and emergent (formative) constructs (Table I). In particular,
intrinsic and extrinsic motivation are composites formed or caused by the corresponding
observed variables, while the knowledge transfer constitutes unobserved variables
reflected in a set of manifest variables.
The model was estimated using SmartPLS 2.00 M3 (Ringle et al., 2005). Since traditional
parametric tests are inappropriate when no assumption is made about the distribution of the
observed variables, the level of statistical significance of the coefficients of both the

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Table I Descriptive statistics and convergent validity
Variables and measured items Mean SD Loading Weights t statistic

Extrinsic motivation (n.a.)

High powered incentives 1.22 0.81 0.5896 2.6151
Recognition 2.20 1.56 0.4778 1.7277
Promotion 3.25 2.12 0.8746 6.0178
Stability 5.08 1.75 0.1197 0.0478
Intrinsic motivation (n.a.)
Self-confidence 4.37 1.78 0.7157 2.9600
Autonomy 5.16 1.41 20.0947 0.7758
Honesty 4.45 1.88 0.0802 1.4051
Membership 4.42 1.93 0.7677 3.6108
Knowledge contributions (rc 0.96, AVE 0.83, a Cronbach 0.95)
Learning 4.52 1.93 0.9115 8.8734
Ideas sharing 4.44 1.83 0.9829 72.1276
Knowledge sharing 4.62 1.79 0.7770 4.0540
Consensus 4.12 1.87 0.9822 45.4829
Contacts 3.95 2.17 0.8541 7.8152

measurement and the structural models was determined through a bootstrap re-sampling
procedure (500 sub-samples were randomly generated). Structural evaluation was
conducted by examining the size and significance of the path coefficients and the R 2
values of the dependent variables.

4. Results
The information obtained by means of the questionnaire for a sample of 76 employees in
Aspronas Assistance Area allows the authors to test the research hypotheses. As Table I
shows, all the items concerning intrinsic motivation and knowledge transfer have an average
above 4 (on a scale from 1 to 7).
Following the two-step approach suggested by Anderson and Gerbing (1988), before
testing and assessing the structural model, the authors analyzed the reliability of individual
reflective items and the corresponding constructs, as well as the convergent validity and
discriminant validity of the measures. As can be observed in Table I, all the reflective item
loadings are significant and greater than 0.6. The authors evaluated composite reliability
using the internal consistency measure (rc) developed by Fornell and Larcker (1981) and
the average variance extracted (AVE) of each latent construct. The reflective construct
exceeds the conditions of rc greater than 0.7 and AVE greater than 0.5.
Discriminant validity can be obtained by calculating the cross-loadings. It was verified that
each reflective item loads more on the construct it intends to measure than on any other
construct, and that each latent variable relates more to its own manifest variables than to the
indicators of other constructs (Table II). For emergent constructs (intrinsic and extrinsic
motivation), in Table I weights instead of loadings are reported. Item weight represents its
relative contribution in the formation of the corresponding construct. It is necessary to bear in
mind that neither is it assumed nor required that formative indicators are correlated;
therefore, traditional measures of internal consistency and validity assessment are
inappropriate and illogical (Rodrguez Pinto et al. 2008).
Figure 2 summarizes the results of the PLS analysis performed to test the structural model. In
particular, the standardized coefficients (b), the significance level (t statistic) and the value
of the R 2 of the dependent variable are shown. H1 is supported. In fact, only the link between
intrinsic motivation and knowledge transfers (contributions) is supported (H1: b 0.72,
p , 0.001). When employees are intrinsically motivated, they are willing to contribute with
their knowledge to the rest of employees. However, the extrinsic motivation is not significant
on knowledge contribution and then, H2 is not supported (H2: b 0.20, n.s.). This result is
interesting bearing in mind that people is involved to a non-profit organization due to intrinsic

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Table II Discriminant validity (cross-loadings)
Intrinsic motivation Extrinsic motivation Knowledge contribution

High powered incentives 0.469 0.630 0.424

Recognition 0.479 0.505 0.340
Promotion 0.603 0.932 0.627
Stability 20.096 0.007 0.005
Self-confidence 0.789 0.752 0.654
Autonomy 20.074 20.051 20.061
Honesty 0.078 20.054 0.065
Membership 0.807 0.381 0.669
Learning 0.771 0.607 0.918
Ideas sharing 0.834 0.691 0.981
Knowledge sharing 0.613 0.442 0.802
Consensus 0.834 0.691 0.981
Contacts 0.696 0.602 0.861

Figure 2 Structural model results

reasons. Intrinsic motivation is the most important element for knowledge contribution
(sharing and transmitting this knowledge within the organization to other stakeholders).
To conclude, the model presented in this paper exhibits an acceptable capacity to explain
how intrinsic motivation is affecting knowledge transfers (see the R 2 values of these variables
in Figure 2). The paper establishes that there is not a crowding-out effect between intrinsic
and extrinsic motivation, on the contrary there is a mutual reinforcement between them. The
authors suppose that the correlation between the intrinsic and extrinsic motivation variables
may be the cause that, finally, extrinsic motivation lacks of effect (see Table III).

5. Conclusions, managerial implications, limitations and future extensions

Knowledge transfer, a key element in knowledge management, has achieved recognition
nowadays for the important role it plays in creating sustainable competitive advantages and
organizational efficiency. Notwithstanding whether employees are willing to transfer and
share their knowledge, contributing to the organizational efficiency is not without cost.
Employees need to perceive that their organization values them by providing suitable work
conditions that allow them to progress, both personally and professionally, and also, they

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Table III Correlations between latent variables
Extrinsic motivation Intrinsic motivation Knowledge transfer

Extrinsic motivation 1 0 0
Intrinsic motivation 0.6909 1 0
Knowledge transfer 0.6732 0.8287 1

need to feel satisfied and a sense of well-being with the activities performed. For these
reasons, intrinsic motivation reaches a high importance for managers.
However, looking at the results of our study, extrinsic motivation, such as high-powered
incentives provided by the organization and offered to the employees, is not necessary for
them to transfer their knowledge. It is intrinsic motivation, generated internally by the
individual, which has been proven to have a better effect on the employees performance,
because it implies employees commitment to the organization. Therefore, non-profit
organizations specifically, those focused on social action may find intrinsic motivations
particularly important in getting their employees to achieve the organizational goals and
mission in the most efficient manner. This type of organization is a good example how
intrinsic motivation can influence employees to stay in the organization for a long time, which
enables them to increase and share their knowledge with the rest of the employees and build
their skill base and experiences to the benefit of organizational efficiency.
Thus, the results confirm one of the hypotheses. The study verifies that more intrinsically
motivated employees more actively transfer their knowledge, and the level of extrinsic
motivation of Aspronas employees is not a significant determinant to foster employees
knowledge transfer.
In non-profit organizations is difficult to evaluate how intrinsic motivation is leading to a better
organizational performance and, sometimes, managers prefer to use extrinsic tools to get
the employees attached and involved in the organization. Using the knowledge-based
approach, we go a step further giving light to this debate, claiming that if an organization
creates the environment to motivate intrinsically its employees they will be willing to transfer
their knowledge and accept and capture the knowledge of the rest of the employees. All this
process makes the organization to be better off. Extrinsic motivation is not enough to retain
and use effectively employees knowledge and, additionally, is not significant for knowledge
transfer. Managers should use this evidence by trying to involve deeply their employees in
the organizations mission and strategy, and making them to feel that they are part of the
Accordingly, managers should design the mechanisms to convert tacit knowledge into
explicit knowledge, so the organization can achieve an organizational memory, which makes
efficiency over time possible, even if employees retire or resign from the organization.
However, this research is based just in one organization, and recommendations to other
non-profit organizations must, therefore, be very cautious. Besides that, the authors have
just studied the assistance area, in the future the labor area will be studied, and therefore, a
full view of the organization will be reached.

Employees need to perceive that their organization values

them by providing suitable work conditions that allow them to
progress, both personally and professionally, and also, they
need to feel satisfied and have a sense of well-being with the
activities performed.

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The findings of this research could be affected by national issues so it is necessary to put
them in context taking into account the specific environment in which the organization under
analysis is performing its activities. Family is a fundamental institution in Spain. Bearing in
mind that the welfare state has not a long tradition in this country since it is one of the
youngest democracies in Western Europe, certain services that in other industrialized
countries are provided by the social services of the central government, were assumed by
Spanish families. However, the complexity of the assistance and educative needs of people
with intellectual disabilities demands a professional provision. Many of the involved families
made the decision to set up a non-profit organization so that they could have access to a
greater amount of funds to channel it in order to improve the quality of life of their disabled
relatives. This task had not been necessary if the welfare state was sufficiently developed to
give an adapted response to the specific needs of this group of disabled people.

1. The external enemy syndrome is a situation in which the identification that the individual has with
his own job position decreases his propensity to transfer knowledge in order to avoid that others
take advantage of his own capabilities.

2. The labor area creates and promotes employment for disabled people, principally with intellectual
disability, offering its clients (companies and public institutions) the best quality in products and
services. Aspronas assistance area takes care of the assistance and educative needs of people
with intellectual disability through their whole life. The associative area integrates the associated
members in the political-institutional and services benefit levels.

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About the authors

Natalia Martn Cruz is Professor in the Business Department at the University of Valladolid.
Her research interests are non-profit strategy and corporate governance, entrepreneurship,
pharmaceutical strategy and regulation. Natalia Martn Cruz is the corresponding author and
can be contacted at: ambiela@eco.uva.es
Vctor Martn Perez is an assistant professor in the Business Department at the University of
Valladolid. His research interests are non-profit organizational architecture, organizational
efficiency and teamwork skills.
Celina Trevilla Cantero is a PhD candidate in the doctoral program New trends in business
management at the University of Valladolid, Spain. Her research interest are relative to the
study of the influence of motivation and knowledge transfer in organizations in general,
including non-profits.

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