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Measuring knowledge retention: a case study of a construction consultancy in the UAE

Mohammed Arif (School of the Built Environment, University of Salford, Greater Manchester, UK)
Charles Egbu (School of the Built Environment, University of Salford, Greater Manchester, UK)
Ola Alom (The British University in Dubai, Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
Malik M.A. Khalfan (School of Property, Construction and Project Management, RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia)

Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management

ISSN: 0969-9988

Article publication date: 9 January 2009




The purpose of this paper is to develop a model that can be used to assess the knowledge retention capabilities of an organisation, and suggest opportunities for improvement. A model to fulfil this aim is developed and validated on a construction engineering consultancy.


A knowledge retention model was developed drawing on a thorough review of the literature. The developed retention model was validated through a case of a construction engineering consultancy. Semi‐structured interviews were used to elicit relevant information during the case study.


A four‐stage knowledge retention process has been presented. These four steps are socialisation, codification, knowledge construction, and knowledge retrieval. The paper also describes four levels of maturity for the knowledge retention model. The first level demonstrated the extent of knowledge sharing in the organisation, the second level measured the extent of knowledge shared being documented, the third level measured the effectiveness of storage of documented knowledge, and the last level was a measure of ease of accessibility and retrieval of the knowledge. A four‐level indicator of maturity of the knowledge retention process has been documented. For the case study analysed in this research, the maturity of knowledge retention was noted as being between two and three.

Research limitations/implications

The model developed only captures knowledge that can be converted into an explicit form. The authors accept that there would be some tacit knowledge that cannot be effectively codified in explicit form, and such knowledge might not be captured using the model.


The paper has developed a model that can be used to measure the knowledge retention in an organisation. Although the model has been applied to a construction industry, it can easily be modified vis‐à‐vis other sectors.



Arif, M., Egbu, C., Alom, O. and Khalfan, M.M.A. (2009), "Measuring knowledge retention: a case study of a construction consultancy in the UAE", Engineering, Construction and Architectural Management, Vol. 16 No. 1, pp. 92-108.



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Copyright © 2009, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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