Relational dimensions, motivation and knowledge-sharing in healthcare: a perspective from relational models theory

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This study investigates the relational dimensions that shape clinicians' intentionality and motivation for knowledge-sharing. Qualitative data was collected from 40 clinicians in two hospitals, and relational models theory was used to investigate the impact of different relational models (communal-sharing, authority-ranking, equality-matching and market-pricing) on clinicians' intentionality and motivation to engage in knowledge and learning. While communal-sharing and expert-based authority–ranking relationships predominantly encourage intra-professional knowledge-sharing, equality-matching encourages inter-professional knowledge-sharing. This implies that while the idea is to work together to improve public service quality, each actor has their own interests and is motivated to share knowledge for different collective and/or personal reasons/agendas. In the public sector, formal authority-ranking and market-pricing are the main driving forces of coordination of actions and knowledge flow, through the medium of money and trade. Despite this, power games and a lack of support from those in positions of authority and ignorance of potential conflicts of interest, as well as extrinsic motivators, hamper knowledge-sharing, all of which threaten patient safety. Points for practitioners: In pursuit of public service improvement, a focus on fostering an organizational culture that promotes collective behaviour, especially among those in authority, is crucial, given that their lack of support retards knowledge-sharing. For effective knowledge-sharing, both intrinsic and extrinsic motivators are equally important depending on the relational model.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-18
JournalInternational Review of Administrative Sciences
Publication statusPublished - 3 Aug 2021


  • healthcare
  • intentionality and motivation
  • knowledge-sharing
  • public service delivery
  • relational models theory

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Global Development Institute


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