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Exploring the factors that influence knowledge sharing between academics.

Fullwood, WR and Rowley, J and McLean, J (2018) Exploring the factors that influence knowledge sharing between academics. Journal of Further and Higher Education. pp. 1-13. ISSN 0309-877X

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Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the impact of organisational and individual factors on the knowledge sharing behaviour of UK academics. Although there a few articles that explore knowledge sharing between academics in an Asian context, there is currently only one article that explores this topic in a UK context. Semi-structured interviews were conducted to gather insights into academics’ views on the factors that affect knowledge sharing. Purposive sampling was employed and a total of twelve academics were interviewed. Findings demonstrated that academics are prepared to share different types of knowledge; a range of organisational and individual factors affecting this process were highlighted by interviewees. Trust was discussed more than other individual factors, and was often associated with social exchange and reciprocal benefits. Culture was described by most interviewees as collaborative and the importance of physical location was stressed. Leaders were generally considered to have integrity, but often did not themselves share knowledge in a way that was visible to staff. Regular face-to-face contact was emphasised as a critical enabler for knowledge sharing. This study demonstrates there is a culture of trust in most departments and academics are willing to share knowledge with their colleagues. They do, however, believe that the matrix structure, that is typical of academic departments, has resulted in unclear roles and responsibilities, which could be a serious hindrance to designing structures to promote collaboration and sharing. Consideration should also be given to ensuring the availability of shared spaces to facilitate face-to-face contact between academics.

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