Undesirable Knowledge Behaviours and Task Conflict in Hospitals: Effects on Quality of Care





knowledge management systems, Knowledge hiding, knowledge hoarding, task conflict, quality of care, mixed methods, healthcare


Knowledge management systems in the healthcare context are designed to facilitate knowledge flows and to integrate ways of capturing, leveraging, and sharing knowledge effectively. However, knowledge management implementation is often challenging and driven by the complex and multifaceted nature of healthcare knowledge, albeit related to high performance healthcare outcomes. The social nature of knowledge brings forth additional complexities and managerial challenges that can be related to individual undesirable knowledge behaviours - such as knowledge hiding and knowledge hoarding. Undesirable knowledge behaviours reflect human-based activities that jeopardize decision-making and performance by consciously and unconsciously hindering knowledge flows inside organizations. Such loss of important information can promote disagreements surrounding allocation of resources, contributing to dissonant goals and perspectives that shape task conflict. To that end, the purpose of our work is to understand the influencing role of knowledge management systems, knowledge hoarding, knowledge hiding and task conflict as contributors shaping quality of care in hospitals. We follow a quantitative approach, using partial least-squares structural equation modelling (PLS-SEM) to test the relationships between variables from our original empirical model. Research data comes after a survey conducted to 318 healthcare professionals working in Portuguese hospitals. Main findings show that knowledge management systems positively contribute to knowledge hoarding behaviour, while also presenting a positive influence on the quality of care provided by the hospital. Additionally, knowledge management systems are negatively related to the existence of task conflict between healthcare professionals. Conversely, results show that knowledge hiding is positively related to task conflict–being the latter a negative predictor of quality of care. Moreover, results show that knowledge hoarding positively affects quality of care. Our research offers an original contribution to healthcare management by providing insight on the influence of knowledge related systems and behaviours and their influence on the quality of care provided by healthcare professionals. Theoretical and practical contributions driving future action and research are presented.