Master thesis

Are you aware of the additional costs incurred by each industry simply because of the lack of information sharing within each team?

A recent study puts the cross-industry cost of inadequate cybersecurity due to a lack of information sharing at an average of $13 million per year. Worst of all, more than half of this is due to experts deliberately withholding information.

For my master thesis, I researched this behavior. “Knowledge hiding” is defined by Connelly, Zweig, Webster, and Trougakos (2012) as the intentional attempt by one person to withhold or hide the knowledge that has been requested by another person.

With my master thesis, I want to help not only organizations to find this hidden knowledge, but also to enable organizations to increase their savings and profits by using this hidden knowledge. Besides, the results of this study will help organizations to improve HR policies and practices, team training and development programs, and internal communication processes.

Personally, this topic was interesting to me for various reasons.
Firstly, I have experienced it myself too often that knowledge was not shared or hidden by employees for various reasons, resulting in projects and tasks being delayed or, worse, failing. This behavior also delayed or prevented the development of products or even the entire company.
In the course of my master thesis, I wanted to research more precisely what reasons there are for deliberately withholding and hiding knowledge, and I wanted to understand these reasons. Because only when you understand a problem, you can solve it.

Secondly, my interest in psychology and the constant question, “Why did someone act the way s/he did?” My previous research on the reasons for “knowledge hiding” showed that personality traits favor or diminish this behavior. One personality trait — self-monitoring — has not yet been researched in this context. Self-monitoring is defined by Snyder (1974) as the adaptation of an individual’s expression and self-presentation to the social situation out of concern for social adequacy. In other words, self-monitoring is something we all do. Some more, some less. Furthermore, my research revealed that the reasons for self-monitoring overlap with the reasons for knowledge hiding. This overlap is why this analysis provides much more comprehensive insight into this black box.

Since I specialize in HR Analytics, I took the opportunity to use advanced statistical methods (Multilevel Modeling and Confirmational Factor Analysis) and software (R, HLM Software, SPSS AMOS) in my master thesis, which were previously unknown to me and I had never used before. These advanced methods were especially challenging because my supervisor did not offer any additional support. Finally, the goal of a master thesis is to apply and thus prove the knowledge and skills acquired during my studies. The fact that I chose advanced and untaught methods did not change anything.

The fact that I had to acquire the necessary knowledge and skills myself and had no additional support are two reasons why I am proud of the result of my master thesis.

As with everything, there are always things that could have been done differently in retrospect or should have been added. In the case of my master thesis, these are currently, among others, the following:

  • The citation and short explanation of the three types of knowledge hiding (evasive hiding, rationalized hiding, dumb hiding) would be useful for the understanding of my thesis.
  • I would use the variable “gender” as a moderator and not just as a control variable. It would allow me to show the differences between men and women in terms of self-monitoring and knowledge hiding.

My master thesis was graded with a 7.5. Converted to the Austrian grading system, this is a bad 2 or very good 3.

I thank all teams and individual participants for their time and participation. Without your support, my master thesis would not have been possible.