Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Knowledge Sharing and Incentives Revisited

money The Internet is such a great place to share and learn. I find it a fantastic place to connect with all kinds of people you hardly know, but are willing to share and help you learn anyway.

I recently had such an experience I'd like to share with you. Remember my post on knowledge sharing and incentives? I could have kept this thought to myself, researched it and come up with the answer myself. But I didn't. I blogged about it, commented on a related post (which popped right when I was thinking about the topic...) and shared it in the LinkedIn Group 'Gurteen Knowledge Community'.

What did I get back? Did my readers or experts in the field criticize or laugh at me for wondering about this topic or asking 'dumb' questions? Did they leave me in the cold, completely not responding to me at all? Of course, this can all happen, but none of this (has ever) happened to me. I'll tell you what I got back in this case.

For one, Nick Milton wrote a separate post about my question. Secondly from the Gurteen Knowledge Community I got several replies. I'll share some here:

Pink and others have also done some TED presentations on this.
As Dave said, tasks with simple action-objective structures do well with exogenous rewards like money/tokens/etc., but anything where reflective thought, innovation, creativity, etc. are involved or where the action-objective link is complex, exogenous rewards tend to have the opposite effects.
My guess is that it is a Stroop-effect thing going on or one of those mutually inhibiting effects like when you wake up the nucleus accumbens with a reward like cash and the generosity of a person takes a dive.
In a practical sense, I have seen how money rewards or even individual rewards tend to simply lead to gaming behavior and a big pile of worthless junk instead of usable or novel material.
Bottom line is that you are trying to increase use of social values, not inhibit them.
- Posted by Matthew Loxton

Samuel, read Dan Pink's book "Drive". In the book he says that the research shows that for simple tasks that require no cognitive processing - rewards work - but for more sophisticated tasks that require even a modicum of cognitive engagement - they have an adverse effect. Asking someone to call in to report that they saw something in connection with a crime seems to me to fall in the first category.
Dan Pink and Alfie Kohn also state that when you offer a reward for something - the reward becomes the motivation and replaces the intrinsic motivation to do good. So I would not be surprised if research found that people who are rewarded to report a crime would be less inclined to do so at a future date when no reward was offered.
So yes it seems to be more subtle and at times counter-intuitive.
- David Gurteen

Agree...that's why for KM I think it's about "engagement" that's why I think this slidedeck is spot on http://www.slideshare.net/TSystemsMMS/the-wikipedia-myth-enterprise-20-knowledge-management
Dan Pink also has a video for RSA http://www.thersa.org/events/audio-and-past-events/2010/drive-the-surprising-truth-about-what-motivates-us
Also and animation http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6XAPnuFjJc
To mix it up, here's some research on children
http://johntropea.tumblr.com/post/685512595/rewards-reduce-intrinsic-motivation-the-children
http://johntropea.tumblr.com/post/391619553/being-cautious-about-rewards
http://johntropea.tumblr.com/post/391616299/intrinsic-reinforcements

- John Tropea

Isn't this wonderful? Direct answers to my questions, pointers to information answering my questions, implicit links to people knowledgeable about the subject, etc.

Thanks all for your help! This has been my repeated experience as a blogger. And I hope this post will encourage many more to start or continue blogging. The blogosphere is alive and kicking!

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