Doors and walls: physical barriers and knowledge sharing

Agnieszka Nowinska, Torben Pedersen

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


The extant literature has demonstrated that physical distance negatively affects knowledge sharing, even within the same building. Moreover, the impact of physical barriers, such as doors and walls, has been flagged as an important avenue for research. We contribute to the micro-geography literature by unpacking the effects of physical barriers on knowledge sharing and moderators of that relationship. Based on micro-level, single-firm observational data on employees’ knowledge-sharing dyads, we find that physical barriers impede knowledge sharing after accounting for distance. Simultaneously, we theorise on and find evidence of several moderators of the negative relationship between physical barriers and knowledge sharing at the dyadic and individual levels: strong ties, participation in coordination mechanisms across departments, job autonomy, and location in an office near a printer room. The study has implications for managers in charge of office allocation and the physical layout of offices.

Original languageEnglish
JournalIndustry and Innovation
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)585-606
Number of pages22
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Knowledge sharing
  • autonomy
  • coordination
  • distance
  • physical barrier
  • ties


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