Barriers to Sharing Knowledge

Sharing knowledge is important and if you look at the difference between tacit and explicit knowledge, it's easy to see why this is the case.  

So I've been thinking about what the barriers to knowledge sharing could be.  How many of these apply in your organisation?  What do you do overcome them?  Do you think your organisation and your people recognise the need to share knowledge?  What examples do you have of good knowledge sharing initiatives?



  • Not recognising importance of sharing
  • Creating “fear” around knowledge sharing – e.g. fear of providing feedback
  • Not allowing structure to share knowledge – e.g. no interaction and discussion with performance appraisals, not gathering employee engagement data etc
  • Not investing in technology to promote knowledge sharing
  • Not investing in cost of sharing knowledge – e.g. training programmes, printed material, online media
  • Not prioritising knowledge sharing activities – e.g. team meetings, listening events, training courses, training time
  • Restricting resources – such as time to attend events and complete learning
  • Does not reward, recognise and value knowledge sharing


  • Does not want to
  • Does now know how to
  • Doesn’t recognise knowledge that can be shared
  • Doesn’t have the time to
  • Wants to withhold knowledge for “intellectual” advantage!
  • Doesn’t have anything to share
  • Doesn’t feel that others listen
  • Doesn’t know how to speak to, how to share
  • Doesn’t feel rewarded to do so
  • Fear of repercussion when sharing knowledge
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Ady Howes - Community Manager, DPG

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  • This is an interesting subject. It has made me wonder whether "knowledge sharing" is aligned to "communications" in the workplace? I guess the answer depends upon the type of knowledge that we are trying to share - whether it is regular comms that is required by staff or whether it is "extra-curricular" so to speak. (I think I am ignorant of the correct jargon to express myself properly, but I know what I mean!)

    But does an organisation with good comms in the workplace generally embrace knowledge sharing more fully than an organisation with poor comms? I think the answer would be yes, as "culturally" the two are likely to be linked - the transparent, open culture would promote both good comms and knowledge sharing. (only my opinion.)

    I am also intrigued by different people's receptiveness when knowledge is "offered" to them. This also depends on so many factors.

    When sharing knowledge one of the challenges is ensuring that the "audience" is not feeling patronised. The "sharer" would hopefully understand the level of knowledge already known by the recipients, and build on that.

    The subject "knowledge sharing"  could probably be the subject of a very long essay!


  • I think this is a really comprehensive list Ady.

    So the question is now we know what the barrier are, what do we do to overcome them?

    I think a good knowledge sharing initiative is this community. It was created 18 months ago and we've had to come through a lot of the what you've listed and we're still not there 100% yet.

    We've made great in-roads though and we've got over the 'fear factor' in some cases but not all.

    The two that 'scare' me the most are

    • Organisations that don't recognise the importance / value of sharing
    • Individuals that don't want to share

    In terms of the organisation I can imagine the culture is very closed minded, silo'd and competitive and I can see these the individuals that don't want to share creating this culture but also being a product of the culture they work in.

    As HR / L&D professional we should be saying let us at's time for change and we're the role models to help bring about change.

    Open, transparent, authentic, human, trustworthy are all traits we should be role modeling.

    Knowledge is no longer power, knowledge sharing is powerful :-)

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