A few of the interesting points from a Harvard Business Review article, Why Employees Don’t Share Knowledge with Each Other:
What motivates people to share or hide knowledge? When we analyzed the data on what motivates participants to share or hide knowledge, we categorized their responses as being either “autonomous motivation” (which means doing something because it is meaningful or enjoyable) or “controlled motivation” (which means doing something to get a reward or avoid a punishment). Our results showed that knowledge sharing is more likely when employees are autonomously motivated (for example, they’d agree with the statements “It’s important to share what I know with colleagues” or “It’s fun to talk about things I know”). In contrast, people are more likely to hide their knowledge when their motivation is driven by external pressures (“I don’t want to be criticized” or “I could lose my job”).
This means that pressuring people to share knowledge rather than making them see the value of it doesn’t work very well. If workers do not understand the importance of sharing knowledge to reach unit or organizational goals, they will be less likely to share that knowledge. And if workers are pressured into sharing what they know, it could backfire. If they’re afraid of losing a competitive advantage, they may be even more reluctant to reveal information.
“Pressuring people to share knowledge” has limited value. Creating “autonomous motivation” is critical.