Factors and Barriers to Tacit Knowledge Sharing in Non-Profit Organizations – a Case Study of Volunteer Firefighters in Portugal

Abstract

Studies in Knowledge Management, targeting non-profit organizations (NPOs) are scarce, as opposed to what is happening in the private and public sectors. To study this, we opted for a case study of organizations such as the Portuguese Fire Brigades (FBs), unique in their action and identity and accompanies the need increasingly recognized by society, in enabling these organizations of competencies for the best possible performance in the face of tragic events that have occurred in recent years in Portugal, particularly with regard to large fires. The present study focuses on the sharing of tacit knowledge in NPOs in Portugal. Taking as a case study, the FBs present as objectives, the assessment of the most relevant factors and the most prevalent barriers to this sharing. A careful reading of the literature on tacit knowledge sharing allowed the identification of possible indicators and barriers to sharing this knowledge. The data obtained through questionnaires applied to the firefighters were subjected to two exploratory factorial analyses in order to diagnose the tacit knowledge sharing factors and the types of barriers to this sharing. Thus, 3 factors have been identified that are conducive to the sharing of tacit knowledge within these organizations: organizational culture, individual characteristics, and organizational structure. Four types of barriers with higher prevalence were also identified: personal, communicational, technological, and resource barriers or infrastructures. As limitations to the study, it is important to mention that the present research focuses exclusively on the sharing of tacit knowledge, not considering other forms of knowledge, and that if it is a case study, even with heterogeneous organizations, it cannot be replicated for different realities.

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Correspondence to Márcio José Sol Pereira Oliveira.

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Oliveira, M.J.S.P., Pinheiro, P. Factors and Barriers to Tacit Knowledge Sharing in Non-Profit Organizations – a Case Study of Volunteer Firefighters in Portugal. J Knowl Econ (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13132-020-00665-x

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Keywords

  • Tacit knowledge
  • Knowledge sharing
  • Barriers
  • Non-profit organizations