Barriers to knowledge sharing

Shawn Callahan provides a review of an article from the Journal of Knowledge Management: Three-dozen knowledge sharing barriers

Yesterday I read a paper by Andreas Riege with the title, Three-dozen knowledge sharing barriers managers must consider. It’s a literature review that lists sets of potential knowledge-sharing barriers. The lit review has one major omission I noticed; there is no mention of Gabriel’s Szulanski’s work on knowledge sharing barriers (see references below).

The list is worth having as a ready reference to remind you of things to consider when you are crafting a knowledge strategy. He divides the barriers into three categories: individual, organisational and technological.

Shawn lists the full set of barriers, which is a nice reference.  The Szulanski reference also leads me to a short book, Sticky knowledge : barriers to knowing in the firm.  From browsing the first few pages, I think I need to drop into the NU library and pick it up!  The Szulanski article abstract gives some enticing hints:

The ability to transfer best practices internally is critical to a firm's ability to build competitive advantage through the appropriation of rents from scarce internal knowledge. Just as a firm's distinctive competencies might be difficult for other firms to imitate, its best practices could be difficult to imitate internally. Yet, little systematic attention has been paid to such internal stickiness. The author analyzes internal stickiness of knowledge transfer and tests the resulting model using canonical correlation analysis of data set consisting of 271 observations of 122 best-practice transfers in eight companies. Contrary to conventional wisdom that blames primarily motivational factors, the study findings show the major barriers to internal knowledge transfer to be knowledge-related factors such as the recipient's lack of absorptive capacity, causal ambiguity, and an arduous relationship between the source and the recipient.

3 Comment(s)

Hi Jack, I found the Szulanski article better value than the book. The books says the same thing in more words.

I wish there more book's like Szulanski's out there. He provides a good reality check for those who would make you think that knowledge transfer is an easy and painless process.

magia3e said:

What about psycho-social barriers? If, for example, the group norm is egality and equality, yet you share knowledge, then that individual would be seen as a 'tall poppy' and be cut down. Therefore, to maintain egality, no one shares knowledge for fear of being a tall poppy.

...I think KM could learn a lot from psychology :)

M

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