CoWorkers Hoard Their Ideas


New research shows that co-workers hoard their best ideas.

Have you ever asked a colleague for information, only to have them ignore your request? Did you feel they were purposely avoiding you or only pretending to be ignorant? You may have been right.

Catherine Connelly, assistant professor of human resources & management at the DeGroote School of Business at McMaster University, has found that employees often protect their knowledge and will even take steps to hide it from co-workers

In a world where every interview with a Fortune 500 will quote him/her saying that knowledge sharing is important, the opposite is happening. Yet more proof that something isn't right in the world of business, particularly in the way(s) that we work.

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  • Not surprising at all, since most organizations, for some inexplicable reason use the normal distribution curve to plot employee performance. This means that the only way you can get ahead is at the expense of others. A normal distribution oriented performance culture simply cannot support idea sharing.

  • I guess someone else was hording the many previous studies that “found” the same thing.

    But Rob go back to your post about the CEO who plagarized those principles and you can imagine why subordinates in his organization might hoard their knowledge.

  • Rob

    Good points. Nothing irks people more than to share their ideas only to see others get the glory.

  • Good comments from Mohit and Laurence. I’m hoping to prevent further study of this topic by clearly stating the problem and solution here:

  • Mike,
    Do you have any thoughts on what knowledge hoarding means for business blogs?

    I see a link between what you posted and the fact that business blogs are either very short-lived or nitwittery.

  • Laurence,

    This looks like a good spot for an “I resemble that remark” quip. I’m not sure I’m well-read enough to cite specific examples, but that’s never stopped me from bloviating in the past. I’ll update my post with my answer:

    And thanks for asking!

  • Thanks for your thoughts (see the link above) Mike.

    I like the passionate sharing but I like the knowledgeable and passionate sharing a lot more. 2,500 years ago a brilliant sage observed “those who know don’t speak, those who speak don’t know.” (Update blog for speak and you can see what we’re up against).

  • Reg

    I’m not sure I would agree, at least not as a blanket statement. I believe the temperament of the coworker determines how forthright they are. Now, I would agree that certain profession attract people of a very closed nature.

  • sam

    well -accountability is of the utmost importance to run any enterprise. even if accountability suffers at the individual level , it is enough to drive awedge in the system.