Antecedents of organizational knowledge sharing: A meta-analysis and critique

Candace L. Witherspoon, Jason Bergner, Cam Cockrell, Dan N. Stone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

224 Scopus citations


Purpose: 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. Design/methodology/approach: 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). Findings: 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. Originality/value: 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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)250-277
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Knowledge Management
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2013


  • Behaviour
  • Intention
  • Knowledge management
  • Knowledge sharing
  • Meta-analysis
  • Organizational behaviour

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Strategy and Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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