Altruism and Knowledge Sharing

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Tasha Smith, Joel Dominguez|


In today’s business organizations’ one of the keys to success is the use of knowledge sharing, however, knowledge sharing can sometimes constitute a major challenge in the field of knowledge management. The difficulty of such sharing resides in the transference of knowledge from one entity to another. Some individuals in a team environment tend to resist sharing their knowledge because of the concept that knowledge is property; therefore, it becomes very important and tends to be protected. This is where a sense of altruism within the individual could help to perpetuate not only the knowledge sharing within the team but also the overall organizational goals. In our professional experience we have seen the negative effects of knowledge hoarding in a working team whose focus is often on individual performance and short-term outcomes and results in an unnecessarily competitive work environment, diminishing trust and cooperation at all levels of the organization. As trust and cooperation begin to erode, ethical behavior and cooperation are compromised. Our thoughts are that in a perfect business world prescribed altruism could possibly be promoted to individual team members to help them feel free to share knowledge without the stigma of losing the competitive edge, but rather, to selflessly help coworkers, a team, or the overall organization to be as successful as possible. With that, we will explain in more detail how we feel that altruism can help and may even be contagious in the modern day bureaucracy that is the work place. From burger joints to engineering firms, the selfless sharing of process information can better any group or business willing to coach altruism into their organization from the ground, up.

Altruism is defined as an unselfish regard for or devotion to the welfare of others, as well as “benefiting another as an end in itself” (Batson, Lange, Ahmad, and...
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