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Research has begun to document the negative organizational consequences of knowledge hiding, or the intentional attempt to conceal knowledge, among employees. However, different knowledge hiding behaviours exist, and we explore whether some types of knowledge hiding are more harmful than others. Although theory would suggest that knowledge hiders rationalize their behaviours and fail to anticipate the negative consequences of their behaviours, we found that they did anticipate harmed relationships and retaliation. In addition, targets of knowledge hiding did not always construe the behaviour as harmful or as necessitating retaliation. Overall, our research suggests that not all knowledge hiding is equally harmful. Some types of knowledge hiding may actually enhance the relationships between colleagues and might break the cycle of knowledge hiding in organizations.
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How perpetrators and targets construe knowledge hiding in
Catherine E. Connelly
and David Zweig
DeGroote School of Business, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada
Department of Management, University of Toronto Scarborough, Toronto, ON, Canada
Research has begun to document the negative organizational consequences of knowledge hiding, or the intentional attempt to
conceal knowledge, among employees. However, different knowledge hiding behaviours exist, and we explore whether some
types of knowledge hiding are more harmful than others. Although theory would suggest that knowledge hiders rationalize their
behaviours and fail to anticipate the negative consequences of their behaviours, we found that they did anticipate harmed
relationships and retaliation. In addition, targets of knowledge hiding did not always construe the behaviour as harmful or as
necessitating retaliation. Overall, our research suggests that not all knowledge hiding is equally harmful. Some types of
knowledge hiding may actually enhance the relationships between colleagues and might break the cycle of knowledge hiding in
Keywords: Knowledge hiding; Knowledge sharing; Social construals; Interpersonal relationships.
Employees are expected to share their knowledge with their
co-workers (Cabrera & Cabrera, 2002; Gagné, 2009), and
organizations invest tremendous effort and expense in
developing knowledge management systems to facilitate
this transfer (e.g., Wang & Noe, 2010). Many organizations
take steps to increase employee knowledge sharing among
employees, including developing reward systems (e.g.,
Bock, Zmud, Kim, & Lee, 2005; Swap, Leonard, Shields,
& Abrams, 2001), enhancing social networks and interper-
sonal relationships (e.g., Jarvenpaa & Majchrzak, 2008;
Kankahalli, Tan, & Wei, 2005; Kuvaas, Buch, & Dysvik,
2012;Škerlavaj, Dimovski, Mrvar, & Pahor, 2010)and
crafting organizational cultures that support knowledge
sharing (Connelly & Kelloway, 2003; Jarvenpaa &
Staples, 2001; Muller, Spiliopoulou, & Lenz, 2005).
Despite the organizational benets of knowledge
sharing among employees, many workers are reluctant
to share their knowledge with their colleagues. As noted
by Cabrera and Cabrera (2002), divulging personal
insights into ones co-workers involves a social
dilemma. Although employees recognize that knowledge
sharing may benet the broader group, they are also
aware of the potential personal costs that sharing may
involve. For example, some employees may fear loss of
unique status or power (Ulrike, Beatriz, Jurgen, &
Friedrich, 2005), whereas others may be apprehensive
of being evaluated (Bordia, Irmer, & Abusah, 2006) and
thus adjust their behaviour accordingly.
In consequence, many employees do not actually share
all their knowledge (Cress, Kimmerle, & Hesse, 2006). In
fact, employees may engage in knowledge hiding,
where they attempt to withhold or conceal knowledge
that has been requested by another member of the orga-
nization (Connelly, Zweig, Webster, & Trougakos, 2012).
Interpersonal dynamics inuence whether someone is
likely to hide knowledgeemployees tend to engage in
knowledge hiding against co-workers they distrust (Černe,
Nerstad, Dysvik, & Škerlavaj, 2014; Connelly et al.,
2012). However, situational factors are also important
employees are more likely to hide when the knowledge
is complex, when it is not task related and when employ-
ees perceive that there is not a climate of sharing in their
organization (Connelly et al., 2012).
We are beginning to understand the conditions under
which people are inclined to hide knowledge and what
the consequences of this behaviour might be. For exam-
ple, Peng (2013) found that territoriality concerns can
inuence how much knowledge people will withhold
from others. In addition, Černe et al. (2014)have identi-
ed important consequences of knowledge hiding,
Correspondence should be addressed to Catherine E. Connelly, DeGroote School of Business, McMaster University, 1280 Main Street West,
Hamilton, ON, Canada L8S 4M4. E-mail:
Both authors contributed equally to this work.
European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 2015
Vol. 24, No. 3, 479489,
© 2014 Taylor & Francis
showing that knowledge hiding reduces the creativity of
people who engage in it and triggers a reciprocal distrust
loop that leads to further hiding. Our research builds on
these ndings by examining the anticipated interpersonal
consequences of knowledge hiding from the perspectives
of the knowledge hider (the perpetrator) and the person
who believes that knowledge has been hidden from him
or her (the target). Because knowledge hiding involves
ambiguous situations and subjective evaluations (i.e.,
individuals never know the full extent to which a
colleague is hiding knowledge), we use construals as a
framework to explain how individuals interpret and
respond to knowledge hiding.
Our article is structured as follows. In Study 1, we
develop and test a model of the consequences to an
individual who has hidden knowledge from a co-worker
(the perpetrator). In Study 2, we retest this model with a
new sample to assess the consequences for employees
who believe that a co-worker is hiding knowledge from
him or her (the target). In both studies, we note differential
outcomes for the various types of knowledge hiding (i.e.,
playing dumb, rationalized hiding, evasive hiding).
Finally, we discuss implications for research and practice.
Connelly et al. (2012)identied knowledge hiding is an
intentional attempt by an individual to withhold or
conceal knowledge that has been requested by another
person and demonstrated that knowledge hiding is com-
prised of three separate but related factorsrationalized
hiding (i.e., the hider is offering a justication for
failing to provide requested knowledge by either sug-
gesting he or she is unable to provide the knowledge
requested or blaming another party), playing dumb (i.e.,
the hider pretends to be ignorant of the relevant knowl-
edge) and evasive hiding (i.e., the hider provides incor-
rect information or a misleading promise of a complete
answer in the future, even though there is no intention
to actually provide this). According to Connelly et al.
(2012), people are more likely to hide knowledge from
those who they distrust, but the specic knowledge
hiding behaviour that they use may be affected by
their perceptions of the context. For example, people
are less likely to engage in evasive hiding when the
organizational climate supports knowledge sharing, but
more likely to be evasive when addressing complex
questions. We build on these ndings to discover the
consequences of the different knowledge hiding
Knowledge hiding is not a uniform set of negative
behaviours. Unlike counterproductive workplace beha-
viours, knowledge hiding is not necessarily intended to
harm an individual or the organization. Rather, it is a
common response to a given situation. Indeed, knowl-
edge hiding has been distinguished from a number of
related, but distinct, behaviours such as deception, social
undermining, incivility and territoriality (e.g., Webster
et al., 2008). Interestingly, research on the reciprocal
effects of workplace behaviours such as aggression has
adopted a variety of theoretical frameworks to explain
the effects of these behaviours. For example, Glomb and
Liao (2003) adopted a social information processing
(Salancik & Pfeffer, 1978) and a social learning
framework (Bandura, 1977) to explain why victims of
workplace aggression would retaliate with aggression.
However, we note that workplace aggression is often
overt. Knowledge hiding behaviours, in contrast, range
from more overt actions to more covert ones.
Knowledge hiding has been previously shown to be
distinct from a lack of knowledge sharing. Connelly
et al. (2012) suggest that knowledge hiding and knowl-
edge sharing result from different motivational sources
and they demonstrate this difference empirically. For
example, knowledge hiding might be motivated by
instrumental or anti-social drives, whereas knowledge
sharing is often pro-socially motivated. In addition, a
lack of knowledge sharing is not an intentional attempt
to hide knowledge. In much the same way that counter-
productive workplace behaviours are distinct from
organizational citizenship behaviours, knowledge hiding
and knowledge sharing represent separate behaviours.
As such, it is difcult to generalize from research on
knowledge sharing to explain the consequences that may
arise from knowledge hiding. Our research is an
important rst step in this regard.
Although we have some evidence about why employ-
ees may engage in knowledge hiding, it is not clear what
the consequences are of this behaviour. To date, only one
study has explored the consequences of knowledge hid-
ing. Černe et al. (2014) demonstrated that being a target
of knowledge hiding elicits a reciprocal distrust loop
with the perpetrator that can also diminish creativity.
Further, these researchers found that these effects were
exacerbated in a performance-oriented climate. We aim
to further explore the consequences of knowledge hiding
by investigating how targets and perpetrators of knowl-
edge hiding construe the behaviour. Thus, we use
construal theory as a guiding theoretical framework to
explore the outcomes of knowledge hiding.
Beginning with Lewins(1948) work highlighting the
importance of ones subjective understanding of a
situation, it is acknowledged that how people construe
an event or action will shape their reactions. Self-con-
struals, or how people perceive their relationships with
others, are comprised of our independent, relational and
collective selves (Kashima et al., 1995) and can guide
our cognitions, emotions and behaviours. Relevant to
knowledge hiding is the fact that self-construals and
particularly relational self-construals can affect percep-
tions of interpersonal conict (Gelfand et al., 2001).
Based on this research, we expect that how people
construe the act of knowledge hiding, from the perspec-
tive of those who engage in the act and from the
perspective of those who encounter it, will inuence
their cognitions, affect and behaviours.
Knowledge hiding is difcult to study because of the
inherent complexity of examining perceptions of a beha-
viour that has been intentionally concealed. According to
Robinson, Keltner, Ward, and Ross (1995), peoples
interpretations of behaviour play an important role in
determining their responses to ambiguous situations
(i.e., such as knowledge hiding). Indeed, people tend to
overstate their ability to accurately determine the inten-
tions of the people with whom they interact; in essence,
it is their subjective construals (i.e., not objective apprai-
sals) that guide reactions to othersbehaviours.
Within the realm of construals is the actorobserver
perspective, which determines how an action is inter-
preted differently by multiple observers. Wojciszke
(1994) demonstrated that actors will view their own
behaviour in competence terms (e.g., it is efcient in
accomplishing goals), whereas observers will view the
same behaviour in moral terms (e.g., linking the action to
the intended goal), when the behaviour is performed by
someone else. It is possible that actors (perpetrators) will
construe their actions from a competence perspective but
targets of knowledge hiding will construe the act as
being immoral. Depending on the perspective of the
person (perpetrator or target), the act of knowledge hid-
ing will be perceived very differently. Indeed, Gordon
and Miller (2000) found that actors and observers make
fundamentally different attributions for behaviours such
as lying. Their research suggests that actors attribute
their own lying to situational factors, but attribute
observerslying to dispositional factors.
The way in which perpetrators and targets construe
the act of knowledge hiding will have an inuence on
their respective reactions to this behaviour. Past research
has linked self-construals to a wide range of perceptions,
processes and outcomes and has been applied to explain
how individuals react to injustice and make social
comparisons (Richman & Leary, 2009). Specically,
reactions to rejection have been found to elicit affective
outcomes (e.g., hurt feelings, sadness, anger) and reac-
tionary motivations such as a heightened desire for social
connection, antisocial reactions and withdrawal. These
different reactions are linked to how the event is
construed. Thus, we use a self-construal lens to examine
the impact of knowledge hiding on both perpetrators and
targets. By considering both partiesperspectives, we
explore differences in how knowledge hiding is con-
strued, justied, reacted to and identify some of the
consequences for perpetrators and targets. Specically,
we investigate the impact of knowledge hiding on the
quality of interpersonal relationships among perpetrators
(Study 1) and targets (Study 2) and future intentions to
withhold knowledge in the future. These results offer
important implications for enhancing knowledge sharing
and mitigating the effects of knowledge hiding in
As noted by Gordon and Miller (2000), whose research
focused on how individuals respond to possible decep-
tion, self-serving motivations and attributions may
inuence individualsevaluations of others. Their
research suggests that actors and observers may differ
in how they perceive a given communication; people
tend to underappreciate that multiple construals of some-
one elses behaviour are possible, but also tend to believe
that their own behaviours are altruistically motivated.
According to Gordon and Miller, most individuals can
maintain the belief that they are honest by relying on
hasty, partial or otherwise biased searches for evidence
of their honesty. By relying on denitions of honesty that
are complimentary to ones actions, individuals may
consider themselves honest despite the fact that they
tell numerous or serious lies.
These actorobserver differences are more pro-
nounced if the actors behaviour is negatively valenced,
due to self-serving bias (Miller & Ross, 1975).
Perpetrators are motivated to engage in cognitions that
rationalize or explain away their negative behaviours by
recalling external or mitigating circumstances. Further,
according to Wojciszke (1994), the multiplicity of beha-
viour features enables different interpretations of the
behaviour. The same actions are construable both in
moral and in competence terms. This actorobserver
perspective determines whether competence or moral
categories are used to construe the same behaviour.
Thus, perpetrators will construe their behaviour in
competence rather than moral terms, but targets are
likely to prefer a moral interpretation.
Within the context of knowledge hiding behaviours, it
is quite plausible that perpetrators will seek to justify
their behaviours using external factors as a way of main-
taining their beliefs that they are honest in their interac-
tions with others. Further, perpetrators of knowledge
hiding might view their behaviour as reecting their
competence. We therefore extend the research of
Gordon and Miller (2000) and Wojciszke (1994) to the
context of knowledge hiding. Although lying and knowl-
edge hiding are both somewhat negative behaviours,
there are important differences. Lying (often termed
deception) is a message knowingly transmitted by a
sender to foster a false belief or conclusion by the
receiverand is accomplished via falsication, equivoca-
tion or concealment (Buller & Burgoon, 1996, p. 205).
However, only evasive hiding and playing dumb involve
deception; rationalized hiding does not. As such, it is not
yet clear if the consequences are different for people who
hide knowledge and for those who lie. Further, it is not
yet clear if the different types of knowledge hiding by
perpetrators lead to different consequences.
Previous research suggests that actors can construe
their own behaviour altruistically, as being competent,
and can maintain the belief that they are honest (e.g.,
Gordon & Miller, 2000; Wojciszke, 1994). Thus, we
expect that perpetrators who engage in rationalized hid-
ing will view their behaviour as honest and indicative of
competence, and therefore construe that this behaviour
will not harm the relationship with the target or elicit
future intentions to withhold knowledge by the target. As
such, we hypothesize that:
Hypothesis 1a: Perpetrators of rationalized hiding
perceive that it leads to a better relationship with
the target and that it will not lead to future
intentions by the target to withhold knowledge.
Both evasive hiding and playing dumb involve active
attempts at deception. For example, people who are
hiding knowledge by playing dumb must pretend that
they do not have the capacity to provide assistance, even
though this is not true. Similarly, employees who are
engaging in evasive hiding may promise that knowledge
will be forthcoming, even though they do not actually
plan to provide it. We expect that the deception involved
in these strategies will pose problems in that it will
interfere with peoples otherwise positive self-construals.
Despite most peoples predisposition to see themselves
as honest and altruistic (e.g., Gordon & Miller, 2000), it
will be much more difcult for those engaging in evasive
hiding or playing dumb to maintain these beliefs while
engaging in these deceptive behaviours. As such, we
hypothesize the following:
Hypothesis 1b: Perpetrators who engage in evasive
hiding perceive that it leads to a worse relationship
with the target and future intentions by the target to
withhold knowledge.
Hypothesis 1c: Perpetrators who engage in playing
dumb perceive that it leads to a worse relationship
with the target and future intentions by the target to
withhold knowledge.
In an interview study of employees, Connelly et al.
(2012) found that co-workers who believed that a col-
league had hidden knowledge from them felt that the
relationship was damaged and indicated a desire to
retaliate against hiders. To expand on this, the goal of
this study was to test the relations between three dif-
ferent knowledge hiding strategies and two different
outcomes of knowledge hiding. As such, we conducted
a survey of employees who hid knowledge from co-
workers. As part of a larger study, participants were
recruited through email messages, and those who parti-
cipated were entered into a lottery to receive gift certi-
cates from an online organization. An examination of
early versus late respondents revealed no signicant
differences. Consistent with suggestions for studying
deviant behaviours (Bennett & Robinson, 2003), we
used a critical incident technique in which participants
were asked to describe a recent knowledge hiding inci-
dent at work. As with prior research (Connelly et al.,
2012), we did not dene the term knowledgefor
participants, because this may depend on the context
and the individuals involved; that is, we let respondents
decide what knowledge meant to them. Specically, the
participant was instructed to:
Please think of a recent episode in which someone
requested knowledge from you, and you declined
to share this knowledge or expertise or did not give
all of the information needed. For example, you
might not have shown someone how to do some-
thing, only gave a part of the information needed,
declined to tell something he or she needed to
know, or did not help him or her learn something
To make this incident more salient, participants were
then asked to provide a description of this incident.
A total of 194 employees from a voluntary online
panel of English-speaking adults (The StudyResponse
Project: Stanton & Weiss, 2000) completed our ques-
tionnaire. The use of this panel overcomes some of the
limitations of other data collection methods (e.g., the
use of undergraduates or employees from only one or
a few organizations) by sampling from adult employ-
ees in a wide variety of organizations and occupations.
Because of the nature of our research question, this
diversity was an important consideration for our study.
The StudyResponse panel has been widely used (e.g.,
Piccolo & Colquitt, 2006).Theresponseratewas
approximately 11%, which is typical for panel studies.
Although our participants came from around the
world, most participants were North American
(49.2% US, 17.5% Canada), and all spoke English.
Approximately 57% were female and a wide age
range was represented (e.g., 30% between 30 and 39
and 22% between 40 and 49 years of age). Education
varied, with the most prevalent category, at 39%,
being some college or university. Total full-time
work experience varied from less than 1 year to over
20 years, representing a variety of functional areas.
Managers made up 36% of the sample and participants
were employed in several industries.
Knowledge hiding. The three sub-dimensions of
knowledge hiding were measured using a scale created
and validated by Connelly et al. (2012). Evasive hiding
was measured with four items, such as told him/her that
I would help him/her out but stalled as much as possi-
ble. The internal consistency of this scale was accepta-
ble (α= .73). Playing dumb was also measured with four
items, including said I didnt know even though I did
and demonstrated good internal consistency (α= .84).
Rationalized hiding was measured with three items,
including explained that I would like to tell him/her
but was not supposed toand demonstrated good inter-
nal consistency (α= .78).
Hurt relationships. Four items assessing potential
damage to the relationship with the colleague who
requested knowledge from him or her were developed
for the purposes of this study. The items are: this
episode permanently weakens my relationship with my
co-worker,this episode makes me trust my coworker
less,this episode temporarily weakens my relation-
ship with my coworkerand this episode makes me
dislike my co-worker. This measure was reliable
(α= .90).
Intentions to withhold. Items assessing target inten-
tions to withhold knowledge from the perpetrator in
the future were developed for the purposes of this
study and measured with four items: He/she would
probably withhold his/her knowledge from me,He/
she would likely keep his/her ideas to himself/herself
if I asked this person asked for help,He/she would
plan to keep his/her knowledge from meand He/
she would always remember to withhold his/her
expertise from me. This measure was also reliable
Analysis and results
Item means, correlations and reliabilities are shown in
Table 1. We analysed our data with structural equation
modelling (SEM), which allowed us to test our hypoth-
eses while accounting for measurement error (Kelloway,
1998). The research model was tested using AMOS 19.0
(Arbuckle, 2010) by following the Anderson and
Gerbing (1988) two-step procedure for SEM analysis.
First, a conrmatory factor analysis (CFA) model was
specied and estimated. This model included ve latent
variables that were allowed to correlate freely with one
another, presented a very good t[χ
/df = 1.725,
p< .001; IFI = .95; TLI = .94; CFI = .95;
RMSEA = .06] and met the criteria for very good
model t established by Hu and Bentler (1999).
Furthermore, the t of the ve-factor model was superior
to the t of alternative models. The t of each model is
included in Table 2.
Because the CFA model demonstrated very good tto
the data, a structural model was specied to test our
hypotheses (see Figure 1). The t statistics for this
structural model were good [χ
/df = 1.92, p< .001;
IFI = .94; TLI = .92; CFI = .94; RMSEA = .07]. No
item errors were allowed to correlate.
Hypothesis 1a, which suggested that perpetrators who
engage in rationalized hiding will not perceive that they
harm their interpersonal relationships with the target, or
result in future intentions to withhold knowledge by the
target, was partially supported. Rationalized hiding was
perceived to harm the relationship with the target
(β= .20, p< .05), but it was not related to future
intentions by the target to withhold knowledge.
Hypothesis 1b, which suggested that perpetrators who
engaged in evasive hiding would harm the relationship
Study 1: Perpetrators of knowledge hidingcorrelations,
means, standard deviations and internal consistencies
Measure M SD 1 2 3 4 5
3.57 1.62 (.73)
2.07 1.59 .03 (.79)
3.Playing dumb 2.21 2.20 .19** .08 (.84)
2.86 2.86 .15* .20** .27*** (.90)
5.Withholding 3.34 3.34 .11 .12 .40*** .48*** (.92)
*p< .05.
**p< .01.
***p< .001.
Study 1: Perpetrators of knowledge hidingmeasurement
Five factor .061 1.725 .90 .94 .95 .95
Four factor: Three hiding,
one outcome
.133 4.394 .73 .70 .77 .77
Three factor: One hiding,
two outcomes
.117 3.646 .77 .77 .82 .82
Two factor .164 6.169 .60 .54 .64 .64
One factor .19 8.183 .47 .36 .50 .49
.76 **
.20 *
.37 ***
Figure 1. Structural equation model for the hypotheses tested in
Study 1: Knowledge hidersanticipated reactions. Standardized path
coefcients are shown. Dotted lines indicate non-signicant results.
*p < .05, **p < .01, ***p<.001.
with the target and elicit future intentions to withhold
knowledge by the target, was supported. Evasive hiding
was perceived to harm interpersonal relationships
(β= .76, p< .01) and lead to future intentions to with-
hold knowledge by the target (β= .51, p< .05).
Hypothesis 1c, which suggested that perpetrators who
engaged in playing dumb would harm the relationship
with the target and elicit future intentions to withhold
knowledge by the target, was also partially supported.
Playing dumb was not related to perceptions of a harmed
relationship with the target, but it was signicantly
related to future intentions to withhold knowledge by
the target (β= .37, p< .001).
In this study, perpetrators report different outcomes
depending on the type of knowledge hiding that was
performed. Even though rationalized hiding is not as
deceptive in nature as evasive hiding or playing dumb,
perpetrators perceive rationalized hiding as likely to be
harmful. However, perpetrators also perceive that their
evasive hiding will lead to a hurt relationship and future
intentions to withhold knowledge by the target. As eva-
sive hiding falls closest to behaviours that are deceptive,
it appears that perpetrators are unable to justify their
actions as being due to the situation or to perceive
themselves to be honest. Evasive hiders appear to
appreciate the negative outcomes that can come from
this type of knowledge hiding behaviour.
Interestingly, perpetrators who engage in playing
dumb do not perceive that they have harmed the relation-
ship with the target. Indeed, although playing dumb
involves deception, it does not involve equivocation, as
does evasive hiding. It merely involves concealment of
knowledge. Thus, perpetrators who engage in playing
dumb might be able to maintain their biased beliefs in
their implicit honesty. However, perpetrators who play
dumb do recognize that targets are likely to withhold
knowledge from them in the future, perhaps recognizing
that reciprocity will not be forthcoming should a request
for knowledge be made.
Previous research has suggested that rejected targets
respond with negative affect and reactionary motives to
retaliate (Richman & Leary, 2009), and that targets of
knowledge hiding respond with further hiding (Černe
et al., 2014). Thus, we expect that individuals who
perceive that a colleague is hiding knowledge from
them will construe the knowledge hiding event as rejec-
tion. However, people can experience three sets of
motives simultaneously following a rejection eventa
heightened desire for social connections (with the
rejector or others), antisocial desires to defend oneself
or to retaliate against the rejector, and withdrawal from
social contact in order to prevent further rejection. Given
the possible reactions to rejection identied by Richman
and Leary (2009), rejection can lead to different out-
comes based on the disparate motivations elicited by
the event. It is consequently possible that the different
types of knowledge hiding elicit different motivations in
response to the rejection episode. For example, there is
often a plausible reason provided by perpetrators who
engage in rationalized hiding (e.g., my boss will not let
me share this information), whereas those who engage in
evasive hiding (e.g., Ill get you that information later)
and playing dumb (e.g., I just dont know) do not pro-
vide rationales for their behaviour. The presence or
absence of reasonable explanations for the behaviour
might elicit different motivations for the target in
response to the perceived rejection. Specically, the rea-
sons offered by someone who engages in rationalized
hiding may elicit the respect of the target, because the
hideris fullling his or her responsibilities. As a result,
targets of rationalized hiding might be motivated to
enhance the social connection with the perpetrator in
an effort to avoid future rejection, whereas targets of
evasive hiding and playing dumb might attempt to
avoid future rejection by withdrawing from the perpe-
trator and retaliating. As such, we hypothesize that:
Hypothesis 2a: Targets of rationalized hiding
perceive a strengthened relationship with the
knowledge hiding perpetrator and report lower
intentions to withhold knowledge in the future.
Hypothesis 2b: Targets of evasive hiding perceive a
harmed relationship with the knowledge hiding
perpetrator and report greater intentions to withhold
knowledge in the future.
Hypothesis 2c: Targets of playing dumb perceive a
harmed relationship with the perpetrator and report
greater intentions to withhold knowledge in the
We used the same critical incident technique as in Study
1, with one adjustment. Participants were instructed to
think of a recent episode in which you requested
knowledge from a specic colleague, and he or she
declined to share his or her knowledge or expertise
with you or did not give you all of the information
The same measures described in Study 1 were used but
with minor modications because the participants were
knowledge hiding targets (not perpetrators).
A total of 210 employees from the same voluntary online
panel of English-speaking adults used in Study 1
completed our questionnaire. The response rate was
approximately 11%. Again, most were North American
(53.3% US, 14.8% Canada), and all spoke English.
Approximately 56% were female and a wide age range
was represented (e.g., 23.8% were between 30 and 39
and 23.3% were between 40 and 49 years of age;
SD = 1.43). Education varied, with the most prevalent
category, at 36.2%, being some college or university.
Total full-time work experience varied from less than 1
year to over 20 years, with most respondents having
between 2 and 5 years of experience at their current
organization, representing a variety of functional areas
(e.g., administration, sales, information technology, ser-
vices). Approximately 35% of the sample held manage-
ment positions, and participants were employed in many
industries (e.g., real estate, transportation, health,
Table 3 shows the means, standard deviations,
correlations and internal consistencies of the variables
used in Study 2.
A CFA model was specied and estimated. This model
included ve latent variables that were allowed to corre-
late freely with one another. The model presented a very
good t to the data [χ
/df = 1.62, p< .001; IFI = .96;
TLI = .94; CFI = .95; RMSEA = .06] and met the criteria
for good model t established by Hu and Bentler (1999).
Furthermore, the t of the ve-factor model was superior
to the t of a four-factor model where the two outcome
variables were combined; and the t of a model where
the three forms of knowledge hiding were combined into
a single factor (see Table 4).
Because the CFA model demonstrated very good tto
the data, a structural model was specied to test our
hypotheses (see Figure 2). The t statistics for this
structural model were very good [χ
/df = 1.81,
p< .001; IFI = .94; TLI = .92; CFI = .94;
RMSEA = .06]. No item errors were allowed to correlate
Hypothesis 2a, that a colleagues rationalized hiding
will improve the targets relationship with that person
and lead to lower intentions to withhold knowledge in
the future, was partially supported. Rationalized hiding
was negatively related to a harmed relationship
(β=.37, p< .05) but not related to future intentions
to withhold knowledge. Hypothesis 2b, that a colleagues
evasive hiding would be related to a harmed relationship
and greater intentions to withhold knowledge, was sup-
ported. Evasive hiding was positively related to percep-
tions of a harmed relationship (β= .55, p< .01) and to
the targets intentions to withhold knowledge from the
hider in the future (β= .35, p< .05).
The nal hypothesis (2c), that a colleagues playing
dumb would be related to a worse relationship and
greater intentions to withhold knowledge, was partially
supported. Playing dumb was positively related to per-
ceptions of a harmed relationship (β= .29, p< .01) but
not to intentions to withhold knowledge in the future.
This study again suggests that the type of knowledge
hiding has differential effects on the relationship between
Study 2: Targets of knowledge hidingcorrelations, means,
standard deviations and internal consistencies
Measure M SD 12345
3.95 1.66 (.73)
1.78 1.26 .16* (.78)
2.69 1.60 .25*** .37*** (.84)
4.63 1.82 .06 .03 .31*** (.90)
5.Withholding 3.25 1.88 .01 .10 .19** .43*** (.94)
*p< .05.
**p< .01.
***p< .001.
Study 2: Targets of knowledge hidingmeasurement models
Five factor .055 1.623 .89 .94 .96 .95
Four factor: Three
hiding, one outcome
.117 3.868 .73 .72 .79 .78
Three factor: One hiding,
two outcomes
.107 3.391 .76 .76 .82 .82
Two factor .147 5.509 .61 .56 .65 .65
One factor .187 8.321 .40 .28 .43 .42
.35 *
.55 **
–.37 *
.29 ***
Figure 2. Structural equation model for the hypotheses tested in
Study 2: Target reactions to knowledge hiding. Standardized path
coefcients are shown. Dotted lines indicate non-signicant results.
*p < .05, ***p<.001.
perpetrators and targets and on intentions to engage in
future withholding of knowledge by targets. Specically,
rationalized hiding appears to elicit more positive reac-
tions compared to other types of knowledge hiding.
Targets of rationalized hiding reacted positively to the
event and reported an improved relationship with the
perpetrator. In contrast, both evasive hiding and playing
dumb lead to perceptions that the relationship has been
damaged. Additionally, evasive hiding by perpetrators
elicits the desire to retaliate by endorsing intentions to
withhold knowledge from this person in the future.
Though the net effect of knowledge hiding on the
target could be assumed to be identical, the fact that
different strategies of hiding knowledge had somewhat
different (and, in some cases, harmful) effects is impor-
tant. In each knowledge hiding episode, no knowledge
was provided to the requester, but in only some instances
was this act perceived to be damaging. These observa-
tions appear to be consistent with self-construal theory.
As suggested by Richman and Leary (2009), social
rejection elicits negative emotions (hurt feelings, anger,
sadness, anxiety), but peoples construals of the rejection
event determine the particular motives that guide their
behavioural responses. For example, when rejection is
considered unfair, antisocial responses will be more
likely. People will be motivated to withdraw and retaliate
in response to rejection.
In the context of knowledge hiding, some types of
knowledge hiding strategies may affect the construals
that then guide a targets behaviours. As noted above,
rationalized hiding, which involves an explanation why
the knowledge was not forthcoming, may be interpreted
as being due to situational factors and might not be
construed as a rejection episode. As such, it may be
less likely to elicit a motivation to engage in a response
such as future intentions to withhold knowledge. In
contrast, evasive hiding may not only trigger negative
emotions resulting from rejection, but also trigger the
motivation to retaliate in response by endorsing future
intentions to withhold knowledge. Additionally, a co-
workers evasive hiding elicited a strong endorsement
that the relationship was harmed, more so than the other
types of knowledge hiding. These results for evasive
hiding suggest a vicious cycle; when knowledge is hid-
den from someone, it is construed as a rejection episode
that triggers a motivation to retaliate by intending to
withhold their own knowledge in the future. These nd-
ings reinforce the reasons why managers should strive to
discourage knowledge hiding, and specically evasive
hiding; it is harmful to employees and to organizations.
Being the target of a playing dumb episode also
elicited perceptions of damage to the relationship, but
not to the same degree as evasive hiding. As indicated,
playing dumb did not elicit motivations to retaliate.
Although we did not measure withdrawal directly, con-
strual theory posits withdrawal as a possible behavioural
outcome of a rejection episode. Thus, it is plausible that
targets that experienced playing dumb chose to withdraw
from the perpetrator rather than seek out opportunities to
retaliate in the future.
Knowledge hiding occurs regularly in organizations
(Connelly et al., 2012), but little is understood about
the consequences of this phenomenon. Using construal
theory as a lens, we consider the implications of knowl-
edge hiding from the perspectives of both the hider and
knowledge hiding target. We also specically consider
why the various types of knowledge hiding (i.e., playing
dumb, rationalized hiding, evasive hiding) may have
different outcomes.
Across two studies, we identied the outcomes attrib-
uted to knowledge hiding, how targets of knowledge
hiding construe the behaviour and how hiders perceive
their own behaviour. We discovered that targets of
knowledge hiding view different types of knowledge
hiding in different ways. Specically, whereas rationa-
lized hiding is not perceived to harm the relationship
with the perpetrator or lead to future intentions to with-
hold knowledge, both evasive hiding and playing dumb
have negative implications for the relationship. Further,
evasive hiding leads to greater intentions to withhold
knowledge in the future.
Examining these results through construal theory sug-
gests that the more deceptive knowledge hiding beha-
viours are construed as a rejection episode, which then
motivates targets to retaliate (e.g., Richman & Leary,
2009). In the case of evasive hiding, targets are moti-
vated to engage in retaliation, whereas playing dumb
elicits a motivation to distance oneself from the
Our focus on perpetrators reveals a different set of
conclusions regarding knowledge hiding behaviours.
Drawing on the research on lying and actorobserver
differences, we hypothesized that perpetrators of
rationalized hiding would be able to maintain their per-
ceptions of themselves as honest, competent and altruis-
tic and thus not perceive that their behaviours would
harm their interpersonal relationships with the target.
However, this was not the case. Perpetrators of rationa-
lized hiding recognized the negative impact of this beha-
viour on their relationship with the target but did not
perceive that their behaviour would lead to future inten-
tions to withhold knowledge by this target. We posit that
perpetrators of rationalized hiding still perceive their
behaviours to involve some deception, and thus are
unable to justify their behaviour sufciently to maintain
their beliefs in their own honesty. In contrast, we found
that those who engaged in evasive hiding, arguably the
most deceptive form of knowledge hiding, did perceive
damage to interpersonal relationships and anticipated
retaliation by the target.
The behaviours involved in playing dumb are not as
deceptive as those associated with evasive hiding. This
might help explain why hiders did not perceive playing
dumb as harmful to the relationship; but even so, some
deception was involved. Thus, those who played dumb
perceived that targets would retaliate in the future by
withholding knowledge from them. Given that people
tend to overestimate the extremity of the underlying
beliefs and construals of the other side (Robinson
et al., 1995), those who engaged in evasive hiding and
played dumb might have anticipated that their targets
would react in extreme ways to the behaviour (e.g.,
intending to withhold future knowledge).
Study limitations and directions for future
As with all research, the current studies have both
strengths and limitations. We examined the novel beha-
viour of knowledge hiding in organizations from the
perspective of perpetrators and targets. In addition, we
explored the differential outcomes for the three distinct
factors of knowledge hiding. Further, we adopted a
construal framework to expand our understanding of
knowledge hiding to explore the consequences of this
behaviour for different parties. It was necessary to rely
on single source data to identify the act of knowledge
hiding (in its different forms) and explore the conse-
quences of these behaviours. Because of the nature of
our hypotheses, a research design that avoids the use of
self-reported data would not be feasible. Knowledge
hiding is inherently difcult for others to observe accu-
rately; we therefore measured both ones own knowledge
hiding and ones perceptions of othershiding
behaviours. It is these perceptions that form the basis
of the employees reactions; as with other employee
perceptions (e.g., interpersonal justice, trustworthiness)
it is most accurate to examine the participantsimpres-
sions rather than attempt an objective assessment.
Similarly, self-construals could not be assessed by a
third party. Our research design is therefore consistent
with the broader social construals and knowledge hiding
literatures. However, we cannot completely rule out the
possibility that existing relationships might inuence
whether perpetrators hide knowledge and whether targets
will withhold knowledge, regardless of the actions of
perpetrators. A longitudinal study which assesses inter-
personal relationships and interactions over time would
help in understanding the role of prior relationships in
knowledge hiding. Finally, we acknowledge that our
response rates to our surveys on knowledge hiding
were low. However, they are comparable to the response
rates from other studies employing online samples, and
our analyses revealed no differences in early versus late
Considering the limited research exploring the
consequences of knowledge hiding in organizations,
there are many avenues for potential research. A
qualitative study would supplement the evidence here
and detail how specic knowledge hiding behaviours
elicit construals from both perpetrators and targets. The
intentions for different types of knowledge hiding might
not always lead to expected consequences. For example,
perpetrators might not always have good intentions for
engaging in rationalized hiding and targets might con-
strue perpetrator intentions differently as a result.
Further, it is possible that the consequences of knowl-
edge hiding are different when it occurs between a super-
visor and subordinate. According to Idson and Mischel
(2001), perceivers are likely to go beyond unelaborated
trait inferences and infer mediating variables (e.g., con-
struals) only if the target plays an important role in their
lives. In other words, we describe people in trait terms if
we do not know them well or they are unimportant to us
(e.g., a co-worker in a different division). But, if they are
important to us (e.g., boss), we make more inferences
about their behaviours.
De Cremer, Van Knippenberg, Van Dijk, and Van
Leeuwen (2008) suggest that individualsresponses to
social dilemmas (i.e., cooperate or act in self-interest)
may be affected by their social identication. People
who include the group in their own goals are more likely
to respond cooperatively to requests from group mem-
bers, as long as they identify with the group. As noted by
De Cremer et al. (2008), this phenomenon is consistent
with interdependence theory (Kelley & Thibaut, 1978).
Further, Černe et al. (2014) found that a mastery climate
focusing on learning serves to attenuate the incidence of
knowledge hiding. It would be interesting to extend this
research further to examine how social identication and
collective goals affect organizational membersknowl-
edge hiding behaviours.
Additionally, future research should explore potential
dispositional moderators of knowledge hiding. For
example, it is possible that agreeableness might inuence
the type of knowledge hiding that is displayed by perpe-
trators; highly agreeable people may avoid engaging in
rationalized hiding and may prefer the less confronta-
tional playing dumbstrategy. Further, agreeableness
might inuence the reactions of targets to knowledge
hiding behaviours; agreeable co-workers may be less
inclined to retaliate against someone who hides knowl-
edge from them. Another potential dispositional modera-
tor of knowledge hiding is Machiavellianism (Paulhus &
Williams, 2002). If they consider it to be personally
advantageous to do so, those high in Machiavellianism
might be inclined to pursue the more deceptive types of
knowledge hiding and be more likely to ignore potential
reactions to their behaviour.
Similarly, it would be interesting to determine if
dispositional factors such as automatic hostile attribu-
tions (Wilkowski & Robinson, 2008) would affect reac-
tions to knowledge hiding. Some individuals might be
predisposed to interpret ambiguous situations such as
knowledge hiding as rejections, whereas others give the
other party the benet of the doubt. It is also likely that
factors, such as trait aggressiveness, trait irritability, trait
anger, dissipation-rumination or Type A personality
(Bettencourt, Talley, Benjamin & Valentine, 2006),
might also exacerbate the reactions of individuals who
perceive that someone is hiding knowledge from them.
They may react more negatively (e.g., the relationship
would be more harmed, they would withhold more
information in retaliation) than others who do not have
these traits.
Additional research is certainly required to more fully
understand the consequences of knowledge hiding in
organizations. One interesting avenue would be the con-
cept of ability to focus, as explained by Mayer and
Gavin (2005). In their article, they explain why employ-
ees who are distracted by the untrustworthiness of their
managers are less inclined to engage in organizational
citizenship behaviours. It would similarly be interesting
to examine if the suspected knowledge hiding of ones
peers presents a similar distraction. As we have seen
from our ndings, the construal process is cognitively
and affectively complex; by placing an additional
demand on employees, they may need to cope by redu-
cing discretionary behaviours.
In our study, we did not examine the inuence of
prior relationships on how the act of knowledge hiding
was construed by a target. Our ndings therefore provide
the necessary groundwork for this possible inuence to
be considered. In the literature on advice seeking (e.g.,
Hofmann, Lei, & Grant, 2009), we see that previously
determined perceptions about another persons ability,
accessibility and trustworthiness interact to predict
whether someone will be asked for advice. It would be
interesting to see if these factors also interact to affect
how someone reacts when the advice or information is
not forthcoming.
Although our research was conducted specically to
examine knowledge hiding among co-workers, this is
not to imply that supervisors never hide knowledge. An
interesting extension of our work would be to examine
how subordinates construe knowledge hiding from the
supervisors, and how these construals are affected by the
supervisorsleadership styles. For example, when trans-
formational leaders hide knowledge, this may lead to less
negative consequences than if a transactional leader
engages in this behaviour.
Contributions to practice and conclusions
The current research has implications for both organiza-
tions and employees. First, this research provides further
evidence that knowledge hiding occurs in organizations
and leads to detrimental social interactions amongst
employees. The act of knowledge hiding can elicit a
cycle of hiding behaviours that can limit the productive
transfer of knowledge in organizations and impair team
functioning. Organizations and employees alike should
be aware of these negative consequences and strive to
limit the incidence of knowledge hiding in organizations.
A number of ways to limit the incidence of knowl-
edge hiding have been suggested, including increasing
the perceptions of the trustworthiness of colleagues by
emphasizing a shared identity, enhancing a sharing cli-
mate within the organization and rewarding knowledge
sharing efforts (Connelly et al., 2012). We contribute
to this literature and suggest that helping to reduce
actorobserver biases in construing the knowledge hid-
ing behaviour, perhaps through greater transparency and
social interaction, will help perpetrators understand the
negative impact of their behaviours and lead to a reduced
motivation by targets to retaliate. Interestingly, a meta-
analysis by Baillet (2010) suggests that increased
communication is a solution to social dilemmas; com-
munication is said to reduce the likelihood that people
will respond in self-interested ways. Thus, increasing the
frequency of social interaction and communication
between parties might help to mitigate the negative
consequences of knowledge hiding.
Decreasing the incidence of knowledge hiding in
organizations is important, because it will help
employees to collaborate more effectively. Our research
suggests that perpetrators and targets of knowledge hid-
ing construe the behaviour in different ways, but the
outcomes of knowledge hiding are largely detrimental,
particularly when co-workers engage in evasive hiding
or playing dumb. By understanding how perpetrators and
targets construe knowledge hiding, and limiting the
expression of this behaviour, organizations can break
the cycle of knowledge hiding and reap the benets of
knowledge sharing.
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Original manuscript received April 2013
Revised manuscript received April 2014
Revised manuscript accepted June 2014
First published online June 2014
... The majority of research on the detrimental impacts of knowledge hiding has focused on horizontal knowledge hiding or employees' knowledge hiding from coworkers in the same organizational hierarchy. While top-down knowledge hiding behavior, or knowledge hiding by supervisors from subordinates, has received less research attention (Arain et al., 2020c(Arain et al., , 2022, the behaviors are also prevalent and could be more harmful (Connelly and Zweig, 2015). Supervisors may purposefully mislead or conceal information to avoid providing knowledge assistance to subordinates, which may be motivated by a variety of factors, including the need to protect one's own unique knowledge, avoid losing face, or maintain one's position of authority (Butt, 2020). ...
... This paper provides the following theoretical contributions: First, we find that supervisor knowledge hiding can "trickledown" and lead to subordinate knowledge hiding, establishing the existence of the trickle-down effect in the field of knowledge hiding. In addition, we respond to the appeal by Connelly and Zweig (2015) for research into top-down knowledge hiding and add to the research on the consequences of supervisor knowledge hiding; Second, drawing on the displaced aggression theory, this research investigates the cognitive psychological process that explains why a victimized individual engages in knowledge hiding from coworkers when perceiving knowledge hiding by a supervisor, thereby enhancing the understanding of the trickle-down mechanism of supervisor knowledge hiding. We find that supervisor knowledge hiding is an intentional infringement, which will not only cause the subordinates to accept it silently and react negatively but also trigger more severe reactions and exacerbate harm to an organization. ...
... Knowledge hiding behavior among employees of the same level has been extensively explored. However, this behavior does not exist among employees only, and the knowledge hiding of supervisors from subordinates deserves more attention, especially its negative impact on organizations and individuals (Connelly and Zweig, 2015;Connelly et al., 2019). The most recent relevant research has found that a supervisor's knowledge hiding has a negative impact on employee trust, self-efficacy, organizational identity, innovative behavior, organizational citizenship behavior, personal performance (Arain et al., 2020a(Arain et al., ,b, 2022Abdelmotaleb et al., 2022), etc., and a positive effect on moral disengagement, silence to superiors, team interpersonal deviance, turnover intention (Offergelt et al., 2019;Arain et al., 2020cArain et al., , 2022, etc. ...
Full-text available
The harm of horizontal knowledge hiding behavior (colleague–colleague) to individuals and organizations has been discussed and confirmed by many studies. The negative consequences of top-down (supervisor–subordinate) knowledge hiding have now emerged as a new focus of research. This study aims to enrich the understanding of the consequences of supervisor knowledge hiding by exploring its trickle-down effect and mechanism. Based on the displaced aggression theory in psychology, this paper analyses and examines the cognitive psychological process and mechanism informing employee knowledge hiding from colleagues when faced with their supervisor’s malicious knowledge hiding behavior. Using a three-stage time-lag questionnaire survey strategy, we collect 233 valid samples of full-time employees from representative provinces and cities in China, covering multiple industries. The following findings are observed: (1) Supervisor knowledge hiding from subordinates (SKHS) positively affects subordinate knowledge hiding from colleagues (SKHC); (2) Revenge motivation plays a mediating role; (3) Traditionality weakens the influence of supervisor knowledge hiding on a subordinates’ revenge motivation. This study confirms the trickle-down effects of supervisor knowledge hiding behavior, extends research on the consequences of top-down knowledge hiding and its mechanism and provides new insights for organizational practice.
... These findings are consistent with prior studies. For example, the studies conducted in the government and private organizations reveal that competence trust affirms that partners have the required skills to execute the project (Aoki, 2020; Connelly & Zweig, 2015), and competence increases the interactions among the members (Bogt & Tillema, 2016;Das & Teng, 2002). The results are consistent with recent studies that establish that integrity trust improves the perceived quality of interactions (Han et al., 2021;Liu et al., 2022). ...
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The external auditor cooperates and communicates with the audit committee of a company to ensure effective external audit, including detection of material misstatements in financial statements. Trust is an important element to facilitate information exchange and cooperation. This exploratory research examines the impacts of external auditors' trust in audit committee members' competence , integrity and goodwill on perceived quality of their interactions. Through questionnaire survey, the data were collected from audit managers, senior managers , directors and partners in Hong Kong with a response rate of 27.2 percent. Partial least square structural equation modeling and principal component analysis were employed to test the proposed model. The results reveal that the external auditor's competence trust and integrity trust in the audit committee members are two strong motivators, which improve their interactions with the audit committee. The findings also confirm that perceived quality of interactions during pre-engagement investigation mediates the impacts of competence trust and integrity trust on perceived quality during audit performance stage. The implication of the study is that audit committee members should display high levels of competence and integrity for better interactions with external auditors. These findings provide inspirations for board of directors, executives and policymakers to implement policies that enhance trust among actors to improve audit quality.
... Estimates suggest that employees' knowledge hiding costs $31.5bn per annum to the Fortune 500 companies (Babcock, 2004). This behavior also imposes several hidden costs on organizations in terms of decreased individual and team creativity (Bogilovi c et al., 2017), task performance (Singh, 2019), innovative work behavior , quality of interpersonal relationships (Connelly and Zweig, 2015) and increased interpersonal distrust (Connelly et al., 2012). Taking this into account, it is expected that hospitality employees' tendency to either share less or hide knowledge from coworkers may be harmful to the hotels too (Lim, 2021;Luu, 2021). ...
Purpose Drawing from moral exclusion theory, this study aims to examine a moderated mediation model for the relationship between perceived overqualification (POQ) and knowledge-hiding behavior directly and via perceived dissimilarity. Design/methodology/approach Using the convenience-sampling technique, time-lagged (three waves) data were gathered from 595 employees working in different hotels and event management firms. Hayes’ PROCESS macro was used to test the moderated mediation model. Findings Results showed that perceived dissimilarity among coworkers mediated the result of POQ on knowledge-hiding behavior. In addition, interpersonal disliking moderated the indirect effect in a way that this effect was strong when interpersonal liking was low. Practical implications Findings suggest that organizations should make the overqualified realize that they can also learn from their coworkers whom they perceive as less qualified. In this, the feelings of dissimilarity and disliking can be minimized that in turn may decrease the intention to hide knowledge. Originality/value The present study offers a new perspective for identifying the nexus between POQ and knowledge-hiding behavior by drawing upon moral exclusion theory and examining the mediating role of perceived deep-level dissimilarity.
... Knowledge hiding refers to employees' intentional withholding or concealing of knowledge when requested by others (Connelly et al., 2012). Connelly and Zweig (2015) proposed that knowledge hiding has three types: evasive hiding, playing dumb, and rationalized hiding. Specifically, evasive hiding refers to employees providing incorrect knowledge to coworkers or delaying it as long as possible, without any intent of actual helping. ...
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The research explores a novel phenomenon in which information and communication technology (ICT), which is originally designed for knowledge transferring, may result in employees' knowledge hiding due to increasing use intensity. Specifically, drawing upon the appraisal theory of empathy, we develop a moderated mediation model of empathy linking ICT use intensity and knowledge hiding. The hypothesized model is tested by conducting a scenario-based experimental study (Study 1, N = 194) and a multi-wave field study (Study 2, N = 350). Results show that ICT use intensity is positively related to employees' knowledge hiding through the mediating role of their empathy. Moreover, competitive goal interdependence strengthens the negative relationship between ICT use intensity and employees' empathy, and the indirect positive effect between ICT use intensity and employees' knowledge hiding. Overall, the research answers the questions of how and when ICT use intensity may influence employees' knowledge hiding. Finally, the theoretical and practical implications of the research findings are discussed. Supplementary information: The online version contains supplementary material available at 10.1007/s10551-022-05245-4.
The paper aims to provide a systematic overview of the maturity models used in knowledge management (KM) with the purpose of identifying different perspectives, contributions, shortcomings, and implementation gaps. This study can be characterized as a theoretical research based on a systematic literature review. As a result of this analysis, KM key points and knowledge management maturity models (KMMMs) critical success factors (CSFs) are pointed out and recorded. The concept of standardization and its relation to KM, presenting known KM Standards and their core principles is explored. Even though there is a large number of publications on KM, a literature gap is identified in publications regarding the field of KM Standards and corresponding case studies. Based on the most widely spread critical success factors used in the knowledge management maturity assessment presented in the literature survey, the objective of this paper is to propose a holistic and integrated knowledge management maturity assessment framework encompassing the core guidelines of ISO 30401 in order to be used by researchers and practitioners for future reference in the form of a generic maturity assessment web matrix.
Purpose Previous studies have examined the emotional mechanism between perceived overqualification and knowledge hiding. Based on a relational perspective, this study aims to draw on social comparison theory to reveal the cognitive mechanism of perceived overqualification on knowledge hiding, along with the mediating effect of relational identification. This research conceptualizes perceived overqualification differentiation and reveals the moderating effect of perceived overqualification differentiation on strengthening the link between perceived overqualification and knowledge hiding. Design/methodology/approach This paper conducts two times lagged research, addresses a sample of 216 employees nested in 47 groups from technology or R&D industries and uses structural equation modeling to test an original model. Findings The results show that perceived overqualification positively affects knowledge hiding; relational identification mediates this relationship; perceived overqualification differentiation moderates the effect of perceived overqualification on relational identification as well the indirect effect of perceived overqualification on knowledge hiding via relational identification. Originality/value This paper shows the cognitive mechanism of perceived overqualification on knowledge hiding. Moreover, this study also extends current perceived overqualification literature from a single individual level/a dyad level to a complex team level by conceptualizing the perceived overqualification differentiation. The research findings are helpful to guide team talent management and knowledge management in business management practice.
Purpose The concept of knowledge-hiding starkly contradicts the notions with which it is closely associated, such as knowledge-hoarding and knowledge-sharing. The understanding of the effect of humble leadership on follower knowledge-hiding behaviour is particularly limited, as it is significantly underdeveloped owing to its distinct nature. Ergo, this paper aims to explore the role of humble leadership and its ability to mitigate employee knowledge-hiding behaviour. Moreover, this study aims to investigate the mediating effect of employee self-efficacy and the trust that they have in their leader, based on the relationship between humble leadership behaviour and knowledge-hiding in Jordanian health-care organisations. Design/methodology/approach This study used a quantitative method, and 260 employees of Jordan’s health-care organisations completed an online self-report questionnaire. Further to this, structural equation modelling was used to test the hypothesised correlations. Findings According to the findings of this study, the leaders who exhibited humble behaviour mitigated their employees’ tendencies to engage in the two dimensions of knowledge-hiding (evasive hiding and playing dumb); however, they increased the tendency to practice rationalised hiding. Furthermore, the self-efficacy of employees and trust in their leader mediated the relationship between humble leadership and employees’ knowledge-hiding behaviour. Originality/value This study contributes to the literature by proposing and empirically demonstrating the impact of humble leadership across all three dimensions of knowledge-hiding behaviour, which in turn facilitates new discoveries in a developing country setting. This research expands and sheds light on the theory of humble leadership by proposing a motivational aspect in the negative relation between humble leadership and employees’ knowledge-hiding behaviour: employees’ self-efficacy and trust in their leader.
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Purpose The study aims to explore the impact of tacit knowledge sharing (TKS) factors and its consequences in the form of technological innovation capabilities (TICs) within Pakistani software small–medium enterprises (SSMEs). Design/methodology/approach Drawing upon the social exchange theory (SET), the study used a quantitative approach and structural equation modeling (SEM) to test hypotheses with 220 valid data collected from 23 Pakistani software SSMEs. Findings The peer influence (PI) has positive and significant effect on collaborative culture (CC), willingness to share tacit knowledge (WSTK) and TICs. Organizational trust (OT) has a positive and significant impact on CC and TIC. Whereas, CC possessed positive and significant effect on WSTK and insignificant on TIC. Furthermore, WSTK has positive and significant effect on TIC. Finally, WSTK partially mediates the relationship between PI and TIC whereas WSTK fully mediates the relationship between CC and TIC. Research limitations/implications The study enriches the research on knowledge sharing and TIC. This research investigates the precursors of tacit knowledge-sharing willingness and their consequences in software SMEs; future studies need to examine tacit knowledge-seeking willingness and its consequences not only in software enterprises but also in other industrial sectors. Besides, it needs to evaluate types of innovative capabilities in software SMEs. Practical implications The study suggested that the practitioners need to strengthen TKS in the form employees’ updated skills and expertise which ultimately fosters software enterprise’s innovative capabilities to attain competitive advantages in a specific industry. Originality/value This research is one of the few studies to examine the potential antecedents of WSTK and their final effects within software SMEs in the form of TICs. As currently it is observed, an incredible increase of skills oriented innovations in firms particularly in the software domain and IT industry. Therefore, this study emphasizes how PI, OT and WSTK positively affect TIC of Pakistani software SMEs. However, the study could be considered as a guideline for the academia and practitioners who attempt to strengthen the technological innovations capabilities in software SMEs.
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to explore the longitudinal influence of gender, age, education level, organizational tenure and emotional intelligence on three dimensions of knowledge hiding over time. Design/methodology/approach A longitudinal study using two-wave data sets of 390 employees in Chinese enterprises was conducted to build fixed, continuous and interacting models for investigating the effects of individual differences on the processes of knowledge hiding over time. Findings This research uncovered the changing relationships of individual differences on knowledge-hiding behaviors over time, such that age correlates with rationalized hiding in the interacting model, indicating younger employees are less likely to choose rationalized hiding when facing situation changes; and education level, organizational tenure and emotional intelligence moderate knowledge hiding over time, implying individuals with better education, longer tenure and higher emotional intelligence tend to exhibit more rationalized hiding behaviors rather than evasive hiding and playing dumb behaviors at Time 2. Originality/value One of the novel contributions of this study is that it tests the longitudinal effect of individual differences on knowledge hiding, providing a vertical perspective, and thereby contributing to the body of knowledge in knowledge management. The study also constructs fixed, continuous and interacting models to measure the covering longitudinal influences, thus making the research original.
Purpose This study aims to develop a framework that demonstrates the role of social capital in alleviating knowledge hiding behaviour in organisations while also considering the moderating roles of perceived organisational politics and the perceived value of knowledge in this process. Design/methodology/approach The authors conducted a systematic literature review of research papers on the topic of knowledge hiding to develop a framework for mitigating knowledge hiding. Findings This paper conceptualises social capital into three interrelated dimensions (e.g. structural, cognitive and relational). Based on the findings of the review, all the three social capital dimensions can potentially mitigate an individual’s propensity towards knowledge hiding. Additionally, the paper integrates two potential moderators: perceived organisational politics and perceived value of knowledge, which could undermine the outcomes of social capital in mitigating knowledge hiding. Research limitations/implications Although the proposed framework may provide preliminary insights to practitioners and scholars, one of its key limitations is that it is conceptual. Future empirical research is needed to validate the proposed framework. Originality/value Existing research has focused on studying the antecedents and consequences of knowledge hiding. However, scant scholarly work explores how such behaviour can be mitigated. This paper addresses this gap and contributes to understanding how organisations can alleviate the prevalence of knowledge hiding by developing their social capital and by focusing on contextual factors.
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The exchange of information among organizational employees is a vital component of the knowledge-management process. Modern information and telecommunication technology is available to support such exchanges across time and distance barriers. However, organizations investing in this type of technology often face difficulties in encouraging their employees to use the system to share their ideas. This paper elaborates on previous research, suggesting that sharing personal insights with one's co-workers may carry a cost for some individuals which may yield, at the aggregate level, a co-operation dilemma, similar to a public-good dilemma. A review of the research on different types of public-good dilemmas provides some indications of the specific interventions that may help organizations encourage the kind of social dynamics that will increase overall knowledge sharing. These interventions can be classified into three categories: interventions aimed at restructuring the pay-offs for contributing, those that try to increase efficacy perceptions, and those that make employees' sense of group:identity and personal responsibility more salient.
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Researchers for decades have believed that trust increases performance, but empirical evidence of this has been sparse. This study investigates the relationship between an employee’s trust in the plant manager and in the top management team with the employee’s in-role performance and organizational citizenship behaviors (OCB). Results support a fully mediated model in which trust in both management referents was positively related to focus of attention, which, in turn, was positively related to performance. The results raise questions about appropriate levels of analysis for outcome variables. Trust is mandatory for optimization of a system.... Without trust, each component will protect its own immediate interests to its own long-term detriment, and to the detriment of the entire system.- W. Edwards Deming (1994) Over three decades ago, Argyris (1964) proposed that trust in management is important for organizational performance. Recognition of the importance of trust in organizational relationships has grown rapidly in recent years, evidenced by a large number of publications on the topic addressing both academic and practitioner audiences (e.g., Annison & Wilford, 1998; Fukuyama, 1995; Mishra, 1996; Shaw, 1997). In spite of this interest, difficulties in defining and operationalizing trust have hampered the empirical study of its relationship with performance.
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This cross-level study of 149 employees from 25 groups demonstrates the impact of group social context on individual interpersonal aggression. Extending the work of Robinson and O'Leary-Kelly (1998), results suggest that both being the target of aggression and the mean level of aggression in a work group (absent the target individual) are predictors of employees' reports of engaging in aggression. Effects persisted when individual differences related to aggression, demographics, and situational variables were controlled. Results suggest individual, reciprocal, and group influences.
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Current social cognition models of knowledge coordination based on transactive memory systems (TMS) theory have not generally considered conditions in which goals among partners are incongruent, and that those with specialized knowledge will not necessarily act to share their knowledge. As expected from previous literature, when facing a problem requiring inputs from others, an individual will draw on her personal or ego-centered network using the knowledge of her network’s TMS; however, we theorize that the mixed motives within her network will cause the individual to also take into account her perception of the level of distrust within the network when combining the received knowledge from others in the network. Moreover, an individual’s view of her network’s TMS will be shaped not by specific policies or enforcement mechanisms, but by semistructures for how knowledge is disseminated, owned, and discussed. Our theory is supported based on a survey of security professionals responding to national security threats. The findings encourage a reexamination of certain assumptions of TMS theory, as well as extending theories of ego-centered networks and social-cognitive information processing to include how individuals manage the knowledge-sharing/protection tension in interorganizational collaborations.
When are perceivers guided more by implicit social - cognitive theories of personality and when more by trait theories? As perceivers become more familiar with a person they infer relatively more psychological mediating variables (e.g., construals, goals) that underlie the person's behavior and relatively fewer broad, uncontextualized traits such as aggressive or friendly (Study 1). The effects of familiarity are moderated by the importance of the target to perceivers (Study 2). Specifically, perceivers make relatively more inferences using mediating variables and fewer inferences with traits as the target becomes more familiar, if and only if the target plays an important role in their lives. The findings indicate that psychological mediating variables play a significant role in lay perceptions of people and specify conditions in which perceiver's function like implicit social - cognitive theorists, namely, when the perceived is familiar and important to the perceiver.
Presents an integrative theoretical framework to explain and to predict psychological changes achieved by different modes of treatment. This theory states that psychological procedures, whatever their form, alter the level and strength of self-efficacy. It is hypothesized that expectations of personal efficacy determine whether coping behavior will be initiated, how much effort will be expended, and how long it will be sustained in the face of obstacles and aversive experiences. Persistence in activities that are subjectively threatening but in fact relatively safe produces, through experiences of mastery, further enhancement of self-efficacy and corresponding reductions in defensive behavior. In the proposed model, expectations of personal efficacy are derived from 4 principal sources of information: performance accomplishments, vicarious experience, verbal persuasion, and physiological states. Factors influencing the cognitive processing of efficacy information arise from enactive, vicarious, exhortative, and emotive sources. The differential power of diverse therapeutic procedures is analyzed in terms of the postulated cognitive mechanism of operation. Findings are reported from microanalyses of enactive, vicarious, and emotive modes of treatment that support the hypothesized relationship between perceived self-efficacy and behavioral changes. (21/2 p ref)
When group members exchange information via shared databases people are often reluctant to contribute information they possess. This is explained by the fact that this kind of information exchange represents a social dilemma. This article applies critical concepts of dilemma theory to the interpretation of database information exchange as a social dilemma and tests their effects experimentally. A prestudy with the experimental task ensures that people perceive database information exchange as a social dilemma, and two experiments investigate three factors influencing this dilemma: (a) a person’s meta-knowledge about the importance of his information for the other group members, (b) a use-related bonus system that rewards contribution of important information, and (c) costs incurred by the contribution of important or less important information. As dependent variables people’s contribution behavior as well as their subjective perception of the dilemma structure are considered. The results show that metaknowledge enhances the quality of contributions, especially in combination with a use-related bonus system, whereas increased contribution costs influence the contribution behavior negatively.
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to examine why and when employees hide knowledge. Individuals may tend to hide knowledge when they have strong psychological ownership feelings over knowledge. Therefore, this research builds and tests a theoretical model linking knowledge‐based psychological ownership with knowledge hiding via territoriality. Design/methodology/approach Data were collected from knowledge workers in China via a three‐wave web‐based survey. The final sample was 190 cases. Hierarchical regression models and a bootstrapping approach were used to test the hypotheses. Findings The results show that knowledge‐based psychological ownership positively affects knowledge hiding. Territoriality fully mediates the link between knowledge‐based psychological ownership and knowledge hiding. Moreover, organization‐based psychological ownership moderates the positive link between territoriality and knowledge hiding. Specifically, territoriality will mediate the indirect effect of knowledge‐based psychological ownership on knowledge hiding when organization‐based psychological ownership is low, but not when it is high. Research limitations/implications The research reflects that to reduce knowledge hiding, organizations should focus on practices that can decrease employees' self‐perception of possession of knowledge and territoriality and that can strengthen employees' psychological ownership for organizations. Originality/value Although many actions have been adopted to foster knowledge management in companies, knowledge hiding is still prevalent in work settings. This paper highlights the predictive power of knowledge‐based psychological ownership on knowledge hiding, and the mediating role of territoriality in the link between knowledge‐based psychological ownership and knowledge hiding.