Barrier and Benefits to Knowledge Sharing
There are many natural barriers to people and organizations sharing knowledge.
Failure to appreciate the value of sharing knowledge.
Lack of understanding how to effectively share knowledge.
There are no incentives or rewards (material or psychic) for knowledge sharing.
People are busy and even with the best of intentions don’t develop a habit of
Professionals are afraid to reveal they do not know something; they do not want to
take risks or be shown wrong because they would feel embarrassed.
Concern that sharing knowledge will reduce one’s own value, prestige or recognition.
Competition -- real or perceived -- for limited resources decreases motivation and
safety for sharing.
Perceived benefits of knowledge hoarding: makes people feel secure, safe or powerful;
people hope to benefit (dollars, power, and credibility) from having exclusive access
Lack of clarity on issues of confidentiality can lead to either withholding information
that can be helpful or sharing it inappropriately.
Benefits to sharing knowledge include:
Enhancement of effectiveness and efficiency by spreading good ideas and practices.
Cost effectiveness – knowledge is developed and then re-used by many people.
Time savings - Professionals learn from their mistakes and those of others.
Emotional relief and decreased tension are experienced when problems are shared.
Bonds and connections between professionals are strengthened; solving problems
brings people together.
More sophisticated ideas, insights and information sources are applied to problems
resulting in better solutions.
Innovation and discovery increase as does: excitement, engagement and motivation.
A feeling of satisfaction from sharing knowledge, much like giving charity, results
from making a contribution to society.
Respectful ways of using knowledge – with attribution and permission -- benefit the
person who generates the knowledge and the person who shares it.
People who have a positive experience of knowledge sharing typically wish
to continue to invest in knowledge sharing activities.
Good Habits of Knowledge Sharing
"Whoever repeats a statement in the name of the one who said it brings redemption to
the world." (Avot 6:6)
Commentary: The sages deemed it so imperative that credit should be given for
another's ideas that they identified the act as a cause for redemption, both communal
and personal (Midrash Shmuel).
Thanks to Michael Miloff and Ilene Vogelstein for their contributions to this document.