Antecedents of organizational knowledge sharing: a meta‐analysis and critique

Candace L. Witherspoon (Assistant Professor in the Department of Accounting and Finance, Valdosta State University, Valdosta, Georgia, USA)
Jason Bergner (Assistant Professor at the University of Nevada, Reno, Nevada, USA)
Cam Cockrell (Assistant Professor in the Department of Accounting, University of North Texas, Denton, Texas, USA)
Dan N. Stone (Gatton Endowed Chair, Von Allmen School of Accountancy, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky, USA)

Journal of Knowledge Management

ISSN: 1367-3270

Publication date: 29 March 2013



Knowledge is the most important component of sustainable organizational growth and economic performance. This meta‐analysis aims to summarize the determinants of individuals' knowledge sharing (KS) intentions and behaviors in organizations.


The authors organize the knowledge sharing antecedents investigated in 46 studies (n≈10,487, median n=172) into three categories, i.e. knowledge sharer intention and attitude (four variables); rewards for KS (three variables); and organizational culture (nine variables).


Variables in all three antecedent categories positively contribute to KS intentions and behaviors; high between‐study variability exists, and the fail‐safe n statistic suggests the observed effects are robust against a “file drawer” (missing study) bias. Moderator results suggest that motivating KS is easier in collectivist, as opposed to individualist, cultures.

Research limitations/implications

In most of the studies included in this meta‐analysis, participants volunteered to share knowledge with researchers. Hence, an important threat to validity in the existing research is a potential “cooperation bias” in which participants likely overestimate their willingness to share knowledge. Future KS research should investigate the dark underbelly of knowledge activities in organizations, including investigations of knowledge hoarding, withholding of knowledge to gain personal advantage, and “contributing” worthless information to gain (through gaming) personal payoffs.


The meta‐analysis results herein contribute to the KS literature by identifying the determinants of KS, and an important potential limitation of much existing KS research.



Witherspoon, C., Bergner, J., Cockrell, C. and Stone, D. (2013), "Antecedents of organizational knowledge sharing: a meta‐analysis and critique", Journal of Knowledge Management, Vol. 17 No. 2, pp. 250-277.

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