Knowledge sharing among public sector employees: evidence from Malaysia

Manjit Singh Sandhu (Department of Management, School of Business, Monash University, Sunway Campus, Malaysia)
Kamal Kishore Jain (Indian Institute of Management, Indore, India)
Ir Umi Kalthom bte Ahmad (Implementation Coordination Unit, Prime Minister's Department, Federal Government Administration Centre, Putrajaya, Malaysia)

International Journal of Public Sector Management

ISSN: 0951-3558

Publication date: 5 April 2011



The main purpose of this paper is to: identify the views of public sector employees towards the importance of Knowledge Sharing (KS); identify the barriers to KS; and identify initiatives that may encourage KS.


The design employed in this research was mainly descriptive in nature. A survey‐based methodology employing a research questionnaire was used to elicit the views of public sector employees towards KS. A total of 320 questionnaires were randomly distributed and 170 were successfully collected, giving a response rate of 60 percent.


The results showed that the respondents were very positive in their views towards “importance of KS” and they also strongly felt that knowledge was a source of competitive advantage. However, they were of the view that the importance of knowledge sharing was not clearly communicated and many of them were not sure whether KS strategy existed in their department. The public sector employees also showed self‐serving biases when it came to their willingness to share knowledge compared with their perception of their colleagues' willingness to share knowledge. Respondents perceived organizational barriers as being more critical compared with individual barriers. Main organizational barriers were lacking in IT systems and there was a lack of rewards and recognition. Lack of time, lack of interaction and lack of interpersonal skills were identified as the main individual barriers. The most favoured KS initiatives found in this study was use of e‐mail systems; inter‐agency activities and use of information and communication technology (ICT) followed by support from top management.

Research limitations/implications

The study is confined to the public sector and thus it cannot be generalized to all organizations. The sample for this study is also limited to two public sector departments: ICU (Implementation Coordination Unit) and PWD (Public Works Department) and thus the views are strictly limited to these agencies. The findings from this study can be useful in enhancing public policy towards effective management and implementation of KS programs.


Since there is limited research on KS in the public sector from developing and emerging nations such as Malaysia, this empirical contribution will further enhance the theoretical knowledge on KS in the public sector from a developing nation's perspective. Second, this is one of the few studies that examine views towards knowledge donating and knowledge receiving in the public sector. This area needs the utmost attention, since it was found in this study that employees' perceived knowledge‐sharing willingness (donating) may differ from colleagues' perceived KS willingness (knowledge receiving).



Singh Sandhu, M., Kishore Jain, K. and Umi Kalthom bte Ahmad, I. (2011), "Knowledge sharing among public sector employees: evidence from Malaysia", International Journal of Public Sector Management, Vol. 24 No. 3, pp. 206-226.

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