There are many great Questions and Answers on Workplace stackexchange that deal with the question of whether or not to share valuable knowledge/skills with others:
The arguments are obviously made in support of sharing one's knowledge/skills at the workplace, in the Answers and Comments. While most arguments are pertaining to the workplace environment or corporate culture or employer-employee relationship, many of them are either kind of universal/philosophical or give way to one if some thought is given. Some examples:
- What goes around comes around. (by Kent A. in the second Question in the list)
- Corporate environment(or the World at large) is not a Zero Sum Game. Your colleagues are your coworkers, and not rivals for some scarce resource like promotion or job security. (by EleventhDoctor in the first Question in the list)
- By teaching others, you organize your own knowledge. By teaching others, you will solidify what you already know. (by JessieArr in the second Question in the list)
- Knowledge is the only thing that increases when you share it. (by Fixed Point in the first Question in the list)
- You should take the fact, that the people around you are getting to be as good as you, as a challenge for you to keep getting better than they are. (by Vietnhi Phuvan in the last Question in the list)
- If you're the only person that knows how to do X, you will be the only person that will ever do X, whenever X is needed. (by Kent A. in the second Question in the list)
All the arguments(not just the ones mentioned above) are counterintuitive but very compelling and convincing to make one believe that there is indeed an universal argument for sharing valuable knowledge/skills. Yet, when I see world/life around me, I see several cases where such arguments/advice, is not followed and seems impractical/unwise. Some examples:
- Take the case of trade/business/recipe formula secrets, which the companies like Pepsi, Coca Cola, McDonalds, etc. take extra ordinary measures from becoming exposed. And the stocks of most of these companies are still rising.
- The cooks who claim their lineage to some royal cook to Kings/Nawabs/Mughals, pre 18th century India, and never share their food recipes with anyone and carefully pass it down from generation to generation.
- Global Warming and Climate Change has shown as that Earth resources are indeed a Zero Sum Game. It's not just good enough for the poor and developing world to raise their standards of living, but also for the rich and developed world to bring down theirs.
All this raises doubt in me. One can counter argue that all this is still short term - that Pepsi, Coca Cola are doing themselves great long term harm by creating circumstances whereby they are stuck doing just one thing, and that the World will move on and is still moving on; that rising stocks are not a very good measure in this regard, and we should be comparing their growth with comparable sized companies over a long period of time(I have not done that much research); that food recipes are created every other day all over the World, and one who remains stuck with centuries old recipes and becomes complacent and therefore doesn't innovate, will see his/her worth going down.
But I am still not confident enough to arrive at a conclusion. Can an universal argument, indeed be made for sharing one's valuable knowledge/skills? And if not, broadly, when is the argument not applicable?