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Tell me if you can: time pressure, prosocial motivation, perspective taking, and knowledge hiding

Miha Škerlavaj (Department for Leadership and Organizational Behavior, BI Norwegian Business School, Oslo, Norway)
Catherine E. Connelly (DeGroote School of Business, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada)
Matej Cerne (Department of Management and Organization, University of Ljubljana, Ljubljana, Slovenia)
Anders Dysvik (Department for Leadership and Organizational Behavior, BI Norwegian Business School, Oslo, Norway)

Journal of Knowledge Management

ISSN: 1367-3270

Article publication date: 25 May 2018

Issue publication date: 4 September 2018

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2448

Abstract

Purpose

The belief that knowledge actually expands when it is shared has been deeply rooted in the mainstream knowledge management literature. Although many organizations and managers expect employees to share their knowledge with their colleagues, this does not always occur. This study aims to use the conservation of resources theory to explain why employees who experience greater time pressure are more likely to engage in knowledge hiding; it further considers how this behavior may be moderated by these employees’ prosocial motivation and perspective taking.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper uses quantitative multi-study research design as a combination of two-wave field study among 313 employees at an insurance company and a lab experimental study.

Findings

In the field study (Study 1), the authors find that perceived time pressure is positively related to knowledge hiding. Furthermore, this relationship is moderated by prosocial motivation: employees who perceive greater time pressure hide knowledge only when they are low in prosocial motivation. An experiment (Study 2) replicates these findings, and finds that perspective taking mediates the moderating effect of prosocial motivation on the relationship between time pressure and knowledge hiding.

Research limitations/implications

Despite its many contributions, the present research is also not without limitations. Study 1 was a cross-lagged sectional field study with self-reported data (although the two-wave design does help alleviate common-method-bias concerns). Causality concerns were further alleviated by using additional experimental study.

Practical implications

The paper highlights important reasons why people hide knowledge at work (because of experienced time pressure) as well as identifies two interlinked potential remedies (prosocial motivation and perspective taking) to reduce knowledge hiding.

Originality/value

This paper contributes to expanding nomological network of knowledge hiding construct by extending the set of known antecedents and contingencies.

Keywords

Citation

Škerlavaj, M., Connelly, C.E., Cerne, M. and Dysvik, A. (2018), "Tell me if you can: time pressure, prosocial motivation, perspective taking, and knowledge hiding", Journal of Knowledge Management, Vol. 22 No. 7, pp. 1489-1509. https://doi.org/10.1108/JKM-05-2017-0179

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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