Systems & complexity

Factors influencing employees’ willingness to share knowledge

In a recent article, we looked at a classification framework of knowledge transfer issues across value networks.

A new conference paper1 also explores knowledge transfer issues. The authors state that while knowledge sharing is a vital organisational process, it depends on the willingness of individuals so needs to be fostered rather than forced or mandated. Because of this, understanding the factors influencing employees’ willingness to share knowledge is essential.

To identify these factors, the authors conducted a review of the extant literature. Peer-reviewed journals from a wide range of domains were considered. A total of 112 relevant articles from 62 different journals were reviewed, with 35 of the articles coming from the Journal of Knowledge Management. Terms related to willingness to share knowledge were compiled into a spreadsheet. A total of 512 terms were identified, and these were then grouped into generic headings, resulting in a total of 25 factors.

Table 1 below lists the 25 factors in no particular order. In regard to the column headings, “Working Definition” is the understanding by the authors from all 112 articles, “Key Characteristics” is a breakdown of the fundamental features of each factor, and “Contributions to the Willingness to Share Knowledge” is the effect that each factor has on the willingness to share knowledge in an organisation.

The authors acknowledge that while the paper attempts to identify as best as possible the factors influencing employees’ willingness to share knowledge, other peer reviewed works may may include new and differing results.

Table 1. Categorised knowledge sharing factors. (Adapted from Mc Manus, Ragab, Arisha, and Mulhall, 2016).

Categorised knowledge sharing factors


  1. Mc Manus, P., Ragab, M., Arisha, A. and Mulhall, S. (2016) Review of Factors Influencing Employees’ Willingness to Share Knowledge. 18th European Conference on Knowledge Management (ECKM), Belfast, Northern Ireland, 2016.
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Also published on Medium.

Bruce Boyes

Bruce Boyes ( is a knowledge management (KM), environmental management, and education professional with over 30 years of experience in Australia and China. His work has received high-level acclaim and been recognised through a number of significant awards. He is currently a PhD candidate in the Knowledge, Technology and Innovation Group at Wageningen University and Research, and holds a Master of Environmental Management with Distinction. He is also the editor, lead writer, and a director of the award-winning RealKM Magazine (, and teaches in the Beijing Foreign Studies University (BFSU) Certified High-school Program (CHP).

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