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Deterrents to knowledge-sharing in the pharmaceutical industry: a case study

Athar Mahmood Ahmed Qureshi (School of Information Technology and Mathematical Sciences, University of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia)
Nina Evans (School of Information Technology and Mathematical Sciences, University of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia)

Journal of Knowledge Management

ISSN: 1367-3270

Article publication date: 7 April 2015




This study aims to explore deterrents to knowledge-sharing in pharmaceutical manufacturing. Effective knowledge-sharing is fundamental to stimulation of the process of knowledge absorption. The limited proximal communication between the employees in the pharmaceutical industry stifles their knowledge-sharing behaviour significantly.


A cross-sectional case study, consisting of semi-structured interviews with managers and scientists, was conducted in a multinational pharmaceutical company in Australia. Respondents were asked to answer questions regarding their current knowledge-sharing practices and to identify organisational deterrents to knowledge-sharing. The data were condensed into themes according to the thematic analysis method.


The pharmaceutical industry is extensively regulated and its excessive competitiveness is cultivating organisational reticence towards the development of a knowledge-sharing culture. Nine categories of deterrents to intra- (within) and inter-organisational (between organisations) knowledge-sharing have been identified. These categories include high cost of sharing knowledge, information technology limitations, knowledge-hiding, lack of socialisation, lack of trust culture, non-educational mindset, organisational politics, poor leadership and time pressure.

Research limitations/implications

The population of this study consists of managers and practitioners working for a pharmaceutical company. Hence, the generalisability of the findings to other health-care settings is unknown.

Practical implications

The findings have implications for leaders and managers who should be aware of these professional diversities, instigators as well as the ripple effects of limited knowledge-sharing to guide the organisation towards developing an optimal knowledge-sharing culture.


A focussed investigation of knowledge-sharing behaviour within the pharmaceutical industry in Australia, considering the pressure applied to this industry over the past decade. This case study specifically focusses on the diversity of deterrents to knowledge-sharing in the pharmaceutical manufacturing industry.



The authors acknowledge their colleague’s helpful comments on an earlier draft of this article.


Qureshi, A.M.A. and Evans, N. (2015), "Deterrents to knowledge-sharing in the pharmaceutical industry: a case study", Journal of Knowledge Management, Vol. 19 No. 2, pp. 296-314.



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