Why organizations fail to share knowledge: An empirical investigation and opportunities for improvement

John Israilidis, Lia Siachou, STEPHEN KELLY

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
128 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose: This paper explores critical failure factors (CFFs) in the context of knowledge sharing. It provides further insights into what can cause knowledge- sharing failures, inflexible knowledge-sharing strategies and ineffective knowledge- sharing mechanisms. It also examines how practitioners can reduce or even mitigate such dysfunctions. Design/methodology/approach: A case-based inductive approach was conducted. Data were collected from two studies applying mixed methods. The first data set included nine in-depth, semi-structured interviews with highly skilled personnel from an aerospace and defense organization. The second data source included 375 successfully completed questionnaires from participants employed at the same organization. Findings: The paper identifies six CFFs with an impact on knowledge sharing. It also reveals that managing organizational ignorance can play a key role in generating new knowledge and averting failure. Study findings provide insights into the importance of identifying these failures when sharing knowledge and propose relevant mitigation strategies. Originality/value: This paper identifies a range of empirically validated CFFs that complement the extant work on the complexity of knowledge sharing and have hitherto not been seen in the literature. It also provides a more nuanced understanding of why both organizations and their people often fail to share knowledge by exploring the role of organizational ignorance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1
JournalInformation Technology and People
Early online date24 Sept 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 24 Sept 2020


  • Aerospace and defense industry
  • Critical failure factors (CFFs)
  • Knowledge sharing
  • Mixed methods
  • Organizational ignorance


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