2.1. Organizational Justice and Knowledge Sharing
KS is a dynamic process that refers to the creation, assimilation and application of knowledge that has to do with organizational effectiveness [35
]. It implies a multidirectional process of knowledge exchange between individuals that includes knowledge donating (based on the willingness to transfer the own intellectual capital) and knowledge collecting (achieved when others share their own knowledge) [39
]. This process is relevant to voluntary knowledge exchange, which implies the generation and support to the flow of ideas and experiences, and all sharing dynamics of knowledge involved in the regular activities [30
]. To integrate these dynamics, it is important to include the antecedents that determine individual participation and the extra-role conduct included in intra-organizational knowledge exchanges [14
]. These determinants relate to individual dispositions and organizational cultures and structures [5
]. Due to their increasing interest, predictors of KS and the relationships related to them have been analyzed [44
Under the label of ‘organization justice’ what is studied in organizations is the perception of justice that organizational participants rate to decide whether the organization is fair from their perspective or point of view. The concept includes four types of justice: distributive, procedural, informational and interpersonal, depending on what aspect of (in) justice is perceived [47
]. Distributive justice refers to the perceptions of what people receive, in terms of tangible or intangible resources. Procedural justice is concerned with the perception of fairness about the set of organizational procedures used to arrive at a decision that affects the output received. Informational justice refers to the fairness perceived regarding the information a decision-maker delivers during the decision process that leads to an output. Finally, interpersonal justice is the perception of fairness that concerns the treatment received by a decision-maker during the decision process that leads to some output. Justice is important as it also has different dimensions, concerning the different motives people can display, such as instrumental, relational and moral or transcendental. Justice is a very important aspect in social interactions and is central to the social exchange theory to examine its relationship with KS behavior [20
]. From a social exchange theory perspective, the social exchange is based on an equity exchange in which there is expected reciprocity based on equity, even if the obligations generated are not clearly determined, and remain quite imprecise [49
]. Thus, equity perceptions are positively related to the duty sentiments to contribute to the organization [44
] and employees that perceive there is justice tend to display a higher cooperative behavior [50
]. As we have mentioned, there are four types of justice, distributive, procedural, informational and interpersonal, depending on which aspect of justice is evaluated or perceived [51
], each factor can have different effects on KS. There is empirical evidence that employees that perceive distributive justice are intrinsically motivated to share knowledge with their colleagues [52
]. This positive effect has also been contrasted with procedural and interactional justice [45
]. Other research has established parallelism between KS behaviors and the participation component of organizational citizenship behavior [33
]. Specifically, with the extra-role behavior related to cooperation and affiliation that includes the voluntary actions that consist of helping workmates (e.g., attending meetings and engaging in positive communications by sharing new ideas with others) [54
]. From this perspective, research reveals a consistent relationship between perceptions of procedural justice and organizational citizenship behavior [55
]. Thus, we propose the following hypothesis:
Hypothesis 1a (H1a).
Organizational justice is positively related to knowledge sharing.
Perceived organizational support is a construct based on the norm of reciprocity through which collaborators deliver effort and dedication towards the organization and expect in return future benefits [56
]. Research supports that procedural and distributive justice have influence over perceived organizational support [58
], and that perceived organizational support mediates the relationship between justice and some of the dimensions of organizational citizenship behavior, particularly collaborative behavior [55
]. Thus, organizational justice perceptions affect general perceptions of how employees feel they are valuable for the organization [59
], and these perceptions of being valuable influence the willingness to correspond with sharing and helping behaviors towards others [60
]. Following this approach, employees would be more willing to cooperate and share in environments they find a just treatment, with reciprocity, insofar as the organization values and recognizes their contributions. With the end goal of determining whether the relationship between justice and KS behavior is mediated through perceived organizational support, we establish the following hypothesis:
Hypothesis 1b (H1b).
Employee perceived organizational support plays a mediating role between organizational justice and knowledge sharing.
Job satisfaction is a general individual attitude towards the job [61
]. Job satisfaction is a positive emotional state that results from the valuation of a job or from job experiences [62
]. Job satisfaction such defined is the degree to which individuals like (satisfaction) or dislike (dissatisfaction) their jobs depending on several job characteristics. Robbins (1996) considers job satisfaction as the result of comparing the rewards actually received from the ones they would expect to receive. Research has found that there are several relationships between justice, equity in general and the employees’ attitudes, while some evidence supports that perceptions derived from the judgment about the job environment have influence over job satisfaction [63
]. Moreover, research has found a positive relationship between job satisfaction and organizational commitment [65
]. Commitment is defined as the psychological link between an employee and the organization [66
]. Organizational commitment is one of the dimensions that has been studied using social exchange theory, and the reasoning behind the existence of commitment is that if employees think that the organization satisfies their socioemotional needs and realize they receive attention from it, they would tend to give back in terms of identification or organizational commitment [67
]. Commitment has three dimensions: normative commitment, continuity commitment and affective commitment [68
]. We were interested mainly in the affective organizational commitment, defined as the emotional attachment from the individual towards the organization. Affective commitment has been found related to other organizational behaviors such as behaviors towards helping others [69
], and as a mediator to maintain a positive behavior towards the rest of the organizational members [50
]. For instance, some research showed that affective organizational commitment had a mediator role between procedural justice and the sharing knowledge behavior [71
], and between interactional justice and KS [72
]. Other studies have found evidence of an indirect effect between justice, satisfaction and work commitment mediated by perceived organizational support [60
Based on the existing literature, we could expect that perceptions of justice could create greater levels of satisfaction and commitment and this, in turn, would create an environment that would favor knowledge sharing behavior. In this way, employees who perceive a just treatment in their organization would better satisfy their needs and expectations, and would be greater identified with the organization. This feeling of satisfaction and commitment would influence KS behaviors. Thus, we establish the following hypothesis:
Hypothesis 1c (H1c).
Job satisfaction and affective organizational commitment mediate the relationship between organizational justice and knowledge sharing.
2.2. Perceived Organizational Support and Knowledge Sharing
Following social exchange theory, research has found a relationship between perceived organizational support and KS behavior based on the employees’ interest in adopting behaviors that correspond to the support they receive from the organization [55
]. This research has established the importance of supporting employees from the organization, the supervisor or coworkers, to encourage KS behavior [74
]. Establishing some parallelism between organizational citizenship behavior and knowledge exchange, Podsakoff et al. (2000) have also demonstrated a positive relationship between perceived organizational support and exchange behaviors among leaders and collaborators. However, some studies have nuanced views on the influence of perceived organizational support over KS, as not all the situations favor KS behavior [76
]. In all cases, it is clear that non-incentivizing policies of support between coworkers result in higher impedance towards sharing behavior [77
]. Following this research, we hypothesize:
Hypothesis 2a (H2a).
Employee perceived organizational support has a positive relationship with knowledge sharing.
Empirical evidence has reported a well-established relationship between perceived organizational support and affective commitment [78
] showing that perceived organizational support is a predictor of commitment [80
]. Based on the norm of reciprocity, employees that perceived organizational support feel the obligation to contribute to the organizational well-being and to achieve goals, and their way to fulfill this obligation would be through a greater affective commitment [83
]. This involvement would generate some beliefs regarding the rights that the organization had about the knowledge created or acquired, and thus this would encourage knowledge exchange [85
Organizational commitment has also been studied as a mediator of the relationship between predictors of KS [86
]. For instance, some investigations considered that affective commitment was a mediator between perceived organizational support and KS [87
]. It has been shown that perceived organizational support was positively associated with the organizational commitment and that organizational commitment, in turn, had a positive effect over the KS behavior [88
]. Consequently, when employees perceive the organization supports them, they reciprocate increasing their commitment and organizational citizenship behavior [79
]. Thus, we propose the following hypothesis:
Hypothesis 2b (H2b).
Affective organizational commitment plays a mediating role between employee perceived organizational support and knowledge sharing.