Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Retaining the Knowledge of Older Experts in an Organisational Context and the Role of ICT

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posted on 2023-03-14, 23:27 authored by Joe, Carmel

The oldest members of the post-World War 2 baby boomer generation — born between 1945 and 1963 — are soon nearing retirement, reducing or reviewing the extent of their participation in the workforce in the future. This has significant implications, especially for organisations relying on knowledge workers‘ expertise and experience, as within this cohort resides knowledge that is valuable to organisations. In New Zealand, the problem is twofold. First, Generation X — born between 1964 and 1981 — is numerically only 75% of the size of the baby boomer cohort. The workforce as a whole is predicted to grow at a slower rate after 2016 than it has between 1991 and 2006. Second, organisations will lose valuable knowledge if they do not act to remedy the potential impacts of this demographic phenomenon. The research topic is relevant at a time when few organisations have given serious consideration to the loss of expertise. There is extensive literature on the baby boomer generation, and on the information and communications technologies that exist to support knowledge-related activities such as capture and storage, facilitating access, and sharing and dissemination. However, less specific information was found on the infrastructure or processes for successfully retaining the knowledge of older experts. Do organisations know who the experts are and how their expertise may be retained? This action research study using qualitative methods explores how two organisations define the types of knowledge they will lose when experts leave. An in-depth study of one organisation‘s infrastructure and processes for retaining the knowledge of a specific expert in a key business setting, reveals that his expertise was valued but less understood. The study identified similarities between some characteristics of the expert‘s expertise and elements of wisdom. The findings are presented with reference to an existing research framework pertaining to wisdom as a type of expert knowledge. The framework was adaptable as a representation of the older expert‘s knowledge, and could also be related to the organisation‘s knowledge retention process. The study‘s contribution is a model that integrates knowledge retention with the knowledge framework of an older expert. This research study complements a rise in practitioner efforts to address knowledge loss concerns overseas — by extending our understanding of the nature of the knowledge that organisations value, how this knowledge can be retained, and how ICT can support the knowledge retention imperative


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Information Systems

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Doctoral Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Information Management


Yoong, Pak; Harmer, Brian