How motivation, opportunity, and ability drive knowledge sharing: The constraining-factor model

Enno Siemsen, Aleda V. Roth, Sridhar Balasubramanian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

356 Scopus citations


We introduce and empirically test a theoretical metamodel that explains knowledge-sharing behavior among employees. Building on the well-established motivation-opportunity-ability (MOA) framework, we posit that knowledge sharing among employees is a function of their MOA to do so. Existing literature suggests that the interaction among motivation, opportunity, and ability drives knowledge-sharing behavior. In contrast, we specify a new model in which the "bottleneck" or constraining factor among the MOA variables determines the degree of knowledge sharing that occurs. This constraining-factor model (CFM) fits the data better than the traditional multiplicative model and reveals a new, qualitatively different portrait of knowledge sharing that resolves some of the puzzles in the previous literature. The CFM provides macro-level insights with respect to how operations managers can improve employee knowledge sharing by focusing on the bottleneck MOA variable. As a result, the CFM can help set strategic directions of related policies. The model emphasizes that, counter to conventional wisdom, the MOA variables should not be addressed independently, but rather in a dynamic and coordinated way.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)426-445
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Operations Management
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Behavioral operations
  • Bottleneck
  • Constraining-factor model
  • Knowledge sharing
  • MOA framework


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