Why and when people share their knowledge has received enough academic attention, while little attention devoted to why and when people hide knowledge at workplace. Drawing on the social exchange theory, the norms of reciprocity, and the psychological ownership theory, this study examines how territoriality directly and under the indirect influence of knowledge hiding affect task performance and workplace deviance in organization. The study of 198 triads (ie., the team leader, the team leader's subordinate, and team leader's supervisor) reveals that territoriality and knowledge hiding have negative effect on task performance but positive influence on workplace deviance (ie., interpersonal and organizational deviance). Another contribution of the study is that knowledge hiding negatively mediates the influence of territoriality on task performance and workplace deviance. Implications for theory, practice and future research have been discussed.
Why and when people share their knowledge has received considerable academic attention, while little attention has been devoted to why and when people hide knowledge. Knowledge as a resource multiplies with its usages (Probst, Raub, & Romhardt, 2002) but general human tendency is to believe knowledge as a limited resources that should be hidden (Skerlavaj, Connelly, Cerne, & Dysvik, 2018). The literature is replete with positively skewed research on knowledge sharing (Černe, Nerstad, Dysvik, & Skerlavaj, 2014; Markovic & Bagherzadeh, 2018; Wang & Noe, 2010); however, the concept of knowledge hiding is yet unexplored (Černe et al., 2014; Connelly, Zweig, Webster, & Trougakos, 2012; Skerlavaj et al., 2018) and there is a lack of emphasis on knowledge hiding as a distinct concept and not the opposite of knowledge sharing. It is argued that the motivational source of knowledge sharing and knowledge hiding are different (Connelly et al., 2012), as instrumental or anti-social drivers push people to engage in knowledge hiding, whereas pro-social motivation is attributed to be the reason for people to display knowledge sharing behaviors in the workplace (Connelly & Zweig, 2015). Knowledge hiding in organizations has received much attention from practitioners but requires significant academic attention (Černe et al., 2014; Connelly et al., 2012; Greenberg, Brinsfield, & Edwards, 2007), as knowledge hiding is damaging to organizations, as it creates negative spirals of retaliation (Černe et al., 2014). Therefore, there is the utmost need to understand, control and predict those factors that contribute to knowledge hiding in the workplace. Knowledge hiding is an intentional attempt by a person to withhold or conceal job-related knowledge from coworkers who ask for it (Connelly et al., 2012) and gains impetus if the knowledge hider possesses feelings of ownership of knowledge. Such a feeling of ownership towards knowledge, skills, and expertise relates to behavioral expression of his or her feelings of ownership towards a physical or social object (Brown, Lawrence, & Robinson, 2005). As such, the psychological ownership of knowledge results in territoriality in the workplace, which refers to job behaviors for creating, communicating, sustaining, and restoring territories around the knowledge, skills and expertise to which the coworker feels a proprietary attachment (Brown et al., 2005). Therefore, it is posited that the focal person's knowledge hiding behavior under the influence of territoriality will have a detrimental effect on his/her task performance and increase his/her workplace deviant behaviors. Task performance refers to an employee's effectiveness in completing his/her core job or role-based responsibilities (Conway, 1999; Motowidlo & Van Scotter, 1994), whereas workplace deviance refers to volitional acts by employees to potentially violate the legitimate interests of, or do harm to, an organization or its stakeholders (Sackett & DeVore, 2001).