An information sharing theory perspective on willingness to share information in supply chains

Author:Nadia Zaheer, Peter Trkman
Publication Date:08 May 2017
An information sharing theory
perspective on willingness
to share information in
supply chains
Nadia Zaheer
Department of Engineering Management,
College of Electrical and Mechanical Engineering,
National University of Sciences and Technology, Rawalpindi, Pakistan, and
Peter Trkman
Department of Information and Logistics Management, Faculty of Economics,
University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia
Purpose The quality of information sharing is of the utmost importance for supply chains (SCs).
The purpose of this paper is to improve understanding of the human attitude: willingness to share,
its antecedents and its role in improving information sharing quality.
Design/methodology/approach Based on information sha ring theory, a theore tical model and
research hypotheses are developed. Data f rom 387 respondents were collected to tes t the hypotheses and
model fit using structural eq uation modelling and mediation analysis. The impact of soc ial-psychological
factors and informati on technology (IT) infr astructure capabili ty on willingness to sha re information
and, consequently, it s effect on information s haring quality were ana lysed using IBM SPSS Stat istics,
Findings The statistical analysis showed a good model fit. Trust is the most important antecedent for
willingness to share, while the impacts of commitment and reciprocity are also significant. Interestingly,
power is not a significant antecedent of willingness. Life satisfaction is a significant precursor to willingness
to share information, whereas surprisingly overall job satisfaction does not play a significant role.
Research limitations/implications Cross-sectional data were used and the scope was limited to SCs.
Practical implications Managers should be aware that trust, commitment and reciprocity with their SC
partners influence the willingness to share information with varying effects. Access to proper IT capabilities
increases willingness as does the life satisfaction. SC individuals who are happy with life are more willing.
Interestingly, high power might get the sharer to share information albeit unwillingly.
Originality/value The model provides a social-psychological understanding of the antecedents of human
willingness to share information, which is crucial to sharing quality information. Overall, the social-psychological
and IT factors model based on information sharing theory is statistically valid for the SC context.
Keywords Social exchange theory, Supply chain management, Willingness, Information sharing theory,
IT infrastructure capability, Job and life satisfaction
Paper type Research paper
1. Introduction
Data and information are strategically needed for the success of organisations (Ge and
Helfert, 2008). Information sharing plays a crucial role in improving the performance of
supply chains (SCs) (Ganesh et al., 2014; Trkman et al., 2010; Lee and Whang, 2000).
Companies need clear information sharing policies and a proactive approach to sharing
information (Fawcett et al., 2011). However, a recent summary of 20 years of SC
management research argues that the need to share informationshould be the first and
foremost focus of future SC management research (Wagner and Fearne, 2015).
It is, therefore, crucial to understand which factors influence the development and
implementation of information sharing among SC partners (Cheng, 2011). It is important to
The International Journal of
Logistics Management
Vol. 28 No. 2, 2017
pp. 417-443
© Emerald PublishingLimited
DOI 10.1108/IJLM-09-2015-0158
Received 16 September 2015
Revised 16 December 2015
12 March 2016
6 May 2016
Accepted 6 May 2016
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
sharing theory
note that this information is usually shared by individuals/humans who have access to
different information technology (IT) infrastructure capabilities to facilitate this sharing.
Information is generally viewed as providing an advantage over competitors and this
may cause either organisations or individuals to resist sharing it with their SC partners
(Trkman and Desouza, 2012; Li and Lin, 2006).
There is a considerable need to examine inter-organisational behaviour along with
the social and psychological factors that motivate people to share information (Zhao and
Wu, 2013; Tokar, 2010; Narayanan and Raman, 2004). The aspect of the willingness of
humans to share information is often overlookedin SCs (Fawcett et al., 2007) and most
current studies address the benefits gained from sharing data, but neglect the effect of the
willingness to share (Du et al., 2012). It is important to know why individuals/humans
choose to give information to others (Chen and Hung, 2010). Researchers and practitioners,
thus, have a common interest in understanding the drivers of employeesinformation
sharing (Reinholt et al., 2011).
Many studies (e.g. Moramarco et al., 2013; Romano and Formentini, 2013; Hofer et al.,
2012) identify behavioural factors like trust and motivation for information sharing in
a SC context. However, only a handful of studies derive them from a unifying theory
(Van Weele and Van Raaij, 2014), for example, Wu et al. (2014) and Griffith et al. (2006)
apply social exchange theory (SET). There is a need to apply such interdisciplinary
theories so that the challenges of information sharing may be better understood.
These challenges are mainly either: social in nature like developing trust or collaboration
among SC partners; or technical in nature like the IT infrastructure capability used for
information sharing. Most research regarding the former challenge is on how to build
partnerships and lacks an investigation of the antecedent/personal characteristics that
affect individualswillingness to share.
In this regard, information sharing theory by Constant et al. (1994) draws its roots from
social exchange factors (like reciprocity) and social psychology factors (like attitudes,
feelings and self-identity) to examine the effects on individualsintentions to share
information. Information sharing theory argues that individuals are driven by personal
determinants, for instance reciprocity and power and by the social and organisational
determinants of information sharing. The understanding of information sharing
values is, however, still limited (Popovičet al., 2014). Future research needs to explore
motivational factors like trust and particular attitudes to information sharing intentions
(Wang and Noe, 2010).
Our research focusses on these challenges as we identifyspecific social and psychological
factors derived from information sharing theory that affect the willingness to share
information withSC partners. We empirically examine howmuch this willingness influences
the quality of the information shared while alsotaking firmsIT infrastructure capability into
account. We usea sample of 387 respondents to study thesocial-psychological antecedents of
willingness to share and, consequently, its impact on information sharing quality.
The structure of our paper is that Section 2 reviews the literature to derive the model
from information sharing theory and develop the hypotheses. Sections 3 and 4 discuss the
research design, data collection and results of data analysis using structural equation
modelling, path analysis and mediation analysis. Section 5 explains the theoretical and
practical implications of our work.
2. Literature review and hypotheses development
Our literature review focussed on information sharing theory and willingness to share
information covered under the keywords: information quality, SET, and willingness within
knowledge sharing and information sharing disciplines. The above-mentioned keywords
were combined with supply chainsand IT, which later on were drilled down to include

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