Knowledge sharing in an international law firm
: A case study examining practice, barriers and motivation

  • Sabine Holinde

Student thesis: Master's ThesisMaster of Economic and Social Studies


The aim of this research project was to investigate the knowledge sharing behaviour of lawyers in an international law firm. For this purpose a literature review was carried out with a special focus on knowledge sharing in the legal sector. Barriers to knowledge sharing within organisations were identified. The theoretical basis to encourage knowledge sharing and the role of extrinsic and intrinsic motivation to share were examined. This allowed the author to develop
suggestions for improving knowledge sharing in the case study organisation.

For the research project a case study approach on the basis of a qualitative research strategy was used. Data collection took place through semi-structured interviews, which were transcribed, analysed and coded. The interviewees were
lawyers in the case study organisation. To obtain a variety of views lawyers at different positions and different stages in their careers were chosen as participants. They were questioned on the basis of themes developed from the research questions.

The results showed that lawyers produce a large amount of client-specific knowledge, which is difficult to share despite being in writing. In general, the lawyers prefer personal communication over use of electronic repositories. In accordance with the literature the most prominent barriers to knowledge sharing are time constraints and the billable hour. The current system of incentives is not suited to encourage the sharing of tacit knowledge.

As a conclusion it is recommended to provide guidance on the submission of documents to the electronic repository. In addition, an agenda point on lessons learned from previous cases should be integrated into the regular meetings. It is
suggested that such sharing of knowledge is linked to a group-based reward. Finally, facilities to provide feedback on submissions and a tool providing information on experts in various offices would be useful.
Date of Award2015
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Aberystwyth University
SupervisorDavid Ellis (Supervisor)

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