KM Adoption & Human Social Behavior

Seth Godin  wrote about the "Hobby Economy"  couple of years back and said :

"More and more people are spending more and more time (and money) on pursuits that have no pay off other than satisfaction."

This is as intriguing to enterprise KM strategists as it is to economists. As we go about designing  rewards and recognition schemes for enterprise KM/Collaboration programs, what is the right balance to strike? We have known for long enough that intrinsic reputation is as important as tangible rewards. Now there is serious research evidence to corroborate this. A recent article in Neuron says that social approval lights up the same regions of the brain as monetary rewards. Here is a summary of the research:

Despite an increasing focus on the neural basis of human decision
making in neuroscience, relatively little attention has been paid to
decision making in social settings. Moreover, although human social
decision making has been explored in a social psychology context, few
neural explanations for the observed findings have been considered. To
bridge this gap and improve models of human social decision making, we
investigated whether acquiring a good reputation, which is an important
incentive in human social behaviors, activates the same reward
circuitry as monetary rewards. In total, 19 subjects participated in
functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) experiments involving
monetary and social rewards. The acquisition of one’s good reputation
robustly activated reward-related brain areas, notably the striatum,
and these overlapped with the areas activated by monetary rewards. Our
findings support the idea of a “common neural currency” for rewards and
represent an important first step toward a neural explanation for
complex human social behaviors.

You can see a related video here :

This is a very important finding which will have implications on many dimensions of KM in enterprises. Given that we know that reputation does play a very important role, it would be interesting to ponder over the following questions:

  • What does the CKO do to bring in the right balance of rewards and recognition?
  • Again for the CKO : What are the cultural aspects to be considered for the right kind of recognition systems?
  • How do Enterprise 2.0 consultants and UI folks design enterprise KM systems seamlessly incorporate "social approval"?  [ Lots to learn from the Web 2.0  world !!]


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