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Organizational memory and empowerment

Annette H. Dunham (Based in the Department of Psychology,University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand)
Christopher D.B. Burt (Based in the Department of Psychology,University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand)

Journal of Knowledge Management

ISSN: 1367-3270

Article publication date: 13 September 2011




The aim of this paper is to test a model of the relationship between organizational memory and empowerment. The model posited that organizational memory would be related to requests to share knowledge, psychological empowerment in the workplace (meaning, competence, self‐determination and impact), and organization‐based self‐esteem.


The model was tested with 134 employees representing six companies using hierarchical regression analysis.


Significant relationships were found between organizational memory and requests to share knowledge, empowerment, and organization‐based self‐esteem. Findings indicated that a positive stereotype may exist towards older workers and the frequency they are requested to share knowledge, and that a halo‐type effect may operate, where knowledge of an organization's history is generalized to other knowledge domains.

Research limitations/implications

Causal implications cannot be made as this was correlational research. Some of the research measures while achieving acceptable to good reliability were in an early development stage. The study utilized a convenience sample that may limit how the results can be generalized.

Practical implications

The paper indicates that organizations can emphasize positive outcomes for those who are knowledge repositories and mentors. It is also important to consider possible “positive stereotypes” which may be operating when organizational members evaluate older workers as knowledge repositories and mentors.


The paper addresses the assumptions in the human resources literature concerning the role of older workers as repositories of organizational memory and suitable mentors. The study introduces the “requests to share knowledge scale”.



Dunham, A.H. and Burt, C.D.B. (2011), "Organizational memory and empowerment", Journal of Knowledge Management, Vol. 15 No. 5, pp. 851-868.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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