Chinese culture and virtual knowledge sharing in a multinational corporation

Wei Li, Alexandre Ardichvili, Martin Maurer, Tim Wentling, Reed Stuedemann

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The goal of this study was to explore how national (Chinese) culture influences knowledge sharing in virtual communities of practice at a large U.S.-based multinational organization. The study involved qualitative interviews with the company's employees in China, and managers who are involved in managing knowledge-sharing initiatives. The study findings suggest that the influence of the national culture could be less pronounced in online knowledge sharing than what the literature has suggested. Although Chinese employees' tendency to draw sharp distinctions between in-groups and out-groups, as well as the modesty requirements were barriers to knowledge sharing online, the issue of saving face was less important than expected, and attention paid to power and hierarchy seemed to be less critical than what the literature indicated. A surprising finding was that despite widely assumed collectivistic nature of the Chinese culture, the high degree of competitiveness among employees and job security concerns seemed to override the collectivistic tendencies and resulted in knowledge hoarding. The reasons for these unexpected findings could be associated with differences between face-to-face and online knowledge sharing environments, the influence of the company's organizational culture, and the recent rapid changes of the overall Chinese cultural patterns.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationKnowledge Management, Organizational Memory and Transfer Behavior
Subtitle of host publicationGlobal Approaches and Advancements
PublisherIGI Global
Number of pages15
ISBN (Print)9781605661407
StatePublished - 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Business, Management and Accounting
  • General Social Sciences


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