Motivation, Incentives and Organisational Culture

Trish Milne

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    116 Citations (Scopus)


    Purpose– The purpose of this paper, drawing as it does on earlier research, is to provide the context for a discussion on the use of rewards and recognition programmes in knowledge aware organisations.

    Design/methodology/approach– The paper shows that knowledge sharing is the fundamental requirement of a knowledge‐based organisation. Some of the greatest challenges for organisations moving down the knowledge management path stem from well‐established practices of hoarding knowledge, practices which, in the past, have been well rewarded. Employees' motivation was to hoard knowledge because of the competitive advantage that this would give them. The challenge now is to develop an organisational culture where sharing knowledge is the norm. In seeking ways to foster this culture managers are implementing incentive programmes in the belief that employees will be motivated to share their knowledge across the organisation. Some organisations are investing large amounts of organisational resources towards this end. This paper uses the results of the earlier research to provide a context for an examination of the use of rewards and recognition programmes in the knowledge aware organisation.

    Findings– The paper finds that reward and recognition programmes can positively affect motivation, performance and interest within an organisation. While a little more problematic, team‐based incentives, if designed appropriately, can also encourage and support a range of positive outcomes. But research has yet to reveal whether programmes of this type will influence employees to share their knowledge and learning. Neither is there any research‐based evidence to show that these activities do provide the expected or hoped for return on the, sometimes, large amounts of money that organisations invest in them.

    Research limitations/implications– While there is a strong history of research into the impact of rewards on aspects of employee behaviour including motivation and performance, no research to date has investigated the impact on knowledge sharing.

    Practical implications– The paper suggests that managers who are relying on rewards and recognition programmes as part of their strategies for cultural change need to support research programmes so that they can be confident that the large amounts of resources they are investing for this purpose will bring the return they think.

    Originality/value– This paper provides the context for a discussion. It shows that while organisations are investing in reward and recognition programmes, research on the value of such programmes as factors that motivate knowledge sharing has not been explored empirically.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)28-38
    Number of pages11
    JournalJournal of Knowledge Management
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - 2007


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