Overcoming Barriers to Knowledge Maturing: Motivational and Cultural Aspects

In a nutshell

Motivational and cultural aspects have considerable influences on knowledge maturing processes. A Motivational Model helps to analyze a situation with respect to those aspects.

Parent section

Concept of Knowledge Maturing

Further information

Motivational and Affective Aspects in Technology Enhanced Learning (workshop series)

Key publication to cite

2009

Christine Kunzmann, Andreas Schmidt, Volker Braun, David Czech, Benjamin Fletschinger, Silke Kohler, Verena Lüber
Integrating Motivational Aspects into the Design of Informal Learning Support in Organizations
In: 9th International Conference on Knowledge Management and Knowledge Technologies, September 2-4, 2009, Graz, Austria, 2009

Abstract Motivational aspects in knowledge management have so far largely been considered from the perspective of designing and implementing incentives that influence the extrinsic motivation of employees to participate, contribute, share etc. This is increasingly considered problematic so that this contribution takes a more holistic viewpoint by analyzing and systematizing barriers that have an impact on the motivation to engage in knowledge maturing activities. Based on an ethnographic study and targeted semi-structured interviews, a model is presented that decomposes the motivational aspects. Furthermore, it is presented how motivational aspects can be incorporated into the design of learning support systems.

Contact

Christine Kunzmann

While it is generally acknowledged that motivational, social, and cultural aspects are crucial for changing workplace practice, it turns out to be difficult to include this aspect into design processes. MATURE has therefore (i) developed an analysis model that allows for systematic addressing of motivational aspects and (ii) conducted empirical studies on relevant barriers.

Based on an extension of the model for workplace behaviour by  (Comelli and von Rosenstiel, 2003), the influencing factors on the engagement in a concrete knowledge maturing activity can be decomposed into three main aspects:

  • Individual. This aspect refers to factors that originate directly in the personality and personal characteristics of the individual. Two basic families of factors can be identified:
    • Capability describes factors that affect whether an individual can engage in knowledge maturing activities. This comprises cognitive abilities to understand the issues at hand, and meta competencies, e.g., to cooperate, or to explain to others.
    • Interests, values and needs affect whether an individual wants to engage in knowledge maturing activities. These interests can be rational goals, e.g., for one’s own career, but also comprise personal values, e.g., personal quality standards, and needs, e.g., for appreciation.
  • The work context consists of organisational prerequisites for engagement in knowledge maturing activities:
  • Organisational factors affect whether the individual is allowed to or is even supposed to engage in concrete maturing activities, i.e., it comprises authorization, legitimation, commitment, rewarding, among others.
  • Enabling factors refer to the technical and non-technical facilities offered or tolerated by the organisation to engage in knowledge maturing activities. This comprises technical systems like document and knowledge management systems, email, instant messaging, but also coffee machines and water coolers as possibilities for social interaction. Frequently, not only the facilities as such, but also the implicit and explicit regulations for their usage form an important part.
  • Cooperative factors refer to cooperation as such and its inherent conflicts of interest from a more rational point of view. As cooperation in a single activity is frequently asymmetric, mismatches of interest occur so that win-win situations do not form.
  • Affective factors refer to the emotional side of social relationships and how the involved individual views the quality of these relationships. This includes factors like trust, or “personal chemistry”.
  • The interpersonal context is equally important as most knowledge maturing activities involve interpersonal communication and cooperation.

Based on an extension of the model for workplace behaviour by (Comelli and von Rosenstiel, 2003), the influencing factors on the engagement in a concrete knowledge maturing activity can be decomposed into three main aspects:

  • Individual. This aspect refers to factors that originate directly in the personality and personal characteristics of the individual. Two basic families of factors can be identified:
    • Capability describes factors that affect whether an individual can engage in knowledge maturing activities. This comprises cognitive abilities to understand the issues at hand, and meta competencies, e.g., to cooperate, or to explain to others.
    • Interests, values and needs affect whether an individual wants to engage in knowledge maturing activities. These interests can be rational goals, e.g., for one’s own career, but also comprise personal values, e.g., personal quality standards, and needs, e.g., for appreciation.
  • The work context consists of organisational prerequisites for engagement in knowledge maturing activities:
    • Organisational factors affect whether the individual is allowed to or is even supposed to engage in concrete maturing activities, i.e., it comprises authorization, legitimation, commitment, rewarding, among others.
    • Enabling factors refer to the technical and non-technical facilities offered or tolerated by the organisation to engage in knowledge maturing activities. This comprises technical systems like document and knowledge management systems, email, instant messaging, but also coffee machines and water coolers as possibilities for social interaction. Frequently, not only the facilities as such, but also the implicit and explicit regulations for their usage form an important part.
  • Cooperative factors refer to cooperation as such and its inherent conflicts of interest from a more rational point of view. As cooperation in a single activity is frequently asymmetric, mismatches of interest occur so that win-win situations do not form.
    • Affective factors refer to the emotional side of social relationships and how the involved individual views the quality of these relationships. This includes factors like trust, or “personal chemistry”.
    • The interpersonal context is equally important as most knowledge maturing activities involve interpersonal communication and cooperation.

These factors cannot be clearly separated and also have at least long-term interdependencies:

  • Capabilities of the individual can be improved by organisational measures (giving more responsibilities). This in turn can result in a shift of interest as self-esteem has risen. A change in interest changes the fundamentals of cooperation.
  • The organisation can also introduce technologies that promote transparency and participation. This can conflict with or transform the corporate culture which in turn influences the foundations of cooperation, e.g., changes the value of competition vs. cooperation.

Designing for Motivation

The model allows for a systematic approach to motivational barriers and separates different aspects. But how to move on from here towards a systematic integration into the design process? One important lesson of the MATURE project was that it was highly beneficial to have software developers as (a part of) the ethnographers. While the original purpose of the ethnographic studies has been in the first run primarily to inform the concept development, it has turned out that taking part in those studies, i.e., immersing into a team of people at their workplaces, creates a very deep understanding of problems, needs, barriers etc. (in short: the target users’ reality). This has created a fundamentally different level of shared understanding between technical developers and application partners.

Based on those experiences, we propose the following methodology, which is evaluated as part of current project activities:

  • Immersion of technical developers in the workplace reality as part of rapid ethnographically informed studies with a focus on motivational aspects and guided by the model as presented in the previous section
  • Derivation of personas, i.e. a precise description of a user’s characteristics and what he/she wants to accomplish [Cooper 99] as a real world person with an explicit consideration of the three aspects of the model (i.e., what is the individual/interpersonal/organizational context of the persona that influences her motivational structure)
  • Development of use case descriptions for those personas in direct interaction of developments and users (or their representatives), with an explicit section on interventions targeted to motivational aspects or context conditions
  • Deriving functional and non-functional requirements from those descriptions
  • Formative evaluation of early prototypes with end users in which – if possible – different motivational measures are compared to each other in order select the most effective one.

 

Related publications

2013

Christine Kunzmann, Andreas Schmidt
Barrieren in der Wissensentwicklung und -weitergabe. Analyseinstrumente und Strategien zur Überwindung
In: Laske, Stephan and Orthey, Astrid and Schmid, Michael J. (eds.): PersonalEntwickeln, Luchterhand, 2013, pp. 5.91/1-18

Abstract In diesem Beitrag erfahren Sie, warum die Berücksichtigung motivationaler, sozialer und kultureller Faktoren für die Wissensentwicklung von entscheidender Bedeutung ist, welche sich daraus ergebenden Barrieren von besonderer Bedeutung sind, wie sich diese Faktoren systematisch analysieren lassen, und wie sie sich durch geeignete Maßnahmen überwinden lassen.

2011

Athanasios Mazarakis, Simone Braun, Valentin Zacharias
Feedback in Social Semantic Applications
International Journal of Knowledge Engineering and Data Mining (IJKEDM), 2011

Abstract This article examines the role of feedback mechanisms in social semantic web applications. It introduces different social semantic applications and the function that system feedback can play in these, although only a small portion of possible roles of feedback in such applications is addressed by the state of the art. The authors present an approach with four concrete feedback mechanisms and an experiment on the use of explicit feedback to foster user contribution and motivation. Finally the article details the large number of open research questions in this area.

Christine Kunzmann, Andreas Schmidt
Ethnographically Informed Studies as a Methodology for Motivation Aware Design Processes
In: 2nd International Workshop on Motivational and Affective Aspects in Technology-Enhanced Learning, ECTEL 2011, Palermo, Italy, CEUR Workshop Proceedings, 2011

Abstract While motivational aspects have been recognized as important factors for IT support for learning, it has been difficult to integrate them into requirements engineering processes. We propose ethnographically informed studies as an effective means that has been successfully applied in two research projects as part of their design processes and discuss the remaining challenges.

John Cook, Andreas Schmidt, Christine Kunzmann, Simone Braun
The challenge of integrating motivational and affective aspects into the design of networks of practice
In: 2nd International Workshop on Motivational and Affective Aspects in Technology Enhanced Learning (MATEL 11), ECTEL 2011, Palermo, Italy, CEUR Workshop Proceedings, 2011

Abstract In this position paper, we (i) set out the background, problems and questions involved in moving towards a design methodology for incorporating motivational and affective factors in networks of practice, (ii) define networks of practice, highlighting that motivational and affective factors are intertwined with a range of other complex issues, (iii) examine some of these aforementioned problems using a specific example from the MATURE IP (http://mature-ip.eu/) called people tagging, and use this case (iv) to delineate the challenge of integrating motivational aspects into the design of networks of practice.

Athanasios Mazarakis, Christine Kunzmann, Andreas Schmidt, Simone Braun
Culture Awareness for Supporting Knowledge Maturing in Organizations
In: Motivation und kulturelle Barrieren bei der Wissensteilung im Enterprise 2.0, Workshop auf der Mensch & Computer 2011, 2011

Abstract The success and sustainability of informal learning support at the workplace largely depends on motivational, social, and cultural aspects of the involved individuals, teams, and organizations. In this paper, we present our empirical findings from a large-scale interview-based study on those aspects with respect to knowledge development in companies. We draw some conclusions that influence the development of future culturally aware systems for the enterprise and organizations.

Athanasios Mazarakis, Clemens van Dinther
{Feedback Mechanisms and their Impact on Motivation to Contribute to Wikis in Higher Education}
In: Forte, Andrea and Ortega, Felipe (eds.): Proceedings of the 7th International Symposium on Wikis and OpenCollaboration (WikiSym '11), ACM, New York, NY, USA, 2011, pp. 215-216

2010

Andreas Schmidt
Motivation, Affective Aspects, and Knowledge Maturing
In: 1st International Workshop on Motivational and Affective Aspects of Technology Enhanced Learning, 2010

Andrew Ravenscroft, Andreas Schmidt, John Cook
Designing for Motivation in TEL: Relevance, Meaning and Value in Context
In: 1st International Workshop on Motivational and Affective Aspects of Technology Enhanced Learning, 2010

2009

Christine Kunzmann, Andreas Schmidt, Volker Braun, David Czech, Benjamin Fletschinger, Silke Kohler, Verena Lüber
Integrating Motivational Aspects into the Design of Informal Learning Support in Organizations
In: 9th International Conference on Knowledge Management and Knowledge Technologies, September 2-4, 2009, Graz, Austria, 2009

Abstract Motivational aspects in knowledge management have so far largely been considered from the perspective of designing and implementing incentives that influence the extrinsic motivation of employees to participate, contribute, share etc. This is increasingly considered problematic so that this contribution takes a more holistic viewpoint by analyzing and systematizing barriers that have an impact on the motivation to engage in knowledge maturing activities. Based on an ethnographic study and targeted semi-structured interviews, a model is presented that decomposes the motivational aspects. Furthermore, it is presented how motivational aspects can be incorporated into the design of learning support systems.