Knowledge Hoarding: Workplace Detriment

While research has shown that intelligence and knowledge sharing are key components of organizational success, there is a complex workplace phenomenon called “knowledge hoarding”, where employees refuse to share knowledge and information with others.

A recent study published in the Journal of Organizational Behavior explored the drivers behind an employee who will “play dumb” or purposely fail to share documents, reports, or other information with colleagues.

Key findings of the study included:

  • Employees who feel they will lose competitive advantage are less likely to be forthcoming with intel.
  • Individuals who feel their time is consumed by colleagues asking questions are more likely to hide knowledge.
  • Reciprocity is a key driver in knowlege sharing – if an employee relies on another to complete their own work, they are more likely to work to support others by sharing their own knowledge.
  • Workers who felt they had autonomy in their jobs were more likely to share information.

To view the full results of the study, please click here.


The information included in this blog post originally appeared in an article from Harvard Business Review on July 19, 2019 written by Marylène Gagné, Amy Wei Tian, Christine Soo, Bo Zhang, Khee Seng Benjamin Ho, and Katrina Hosszu.

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