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Managing organizational memory with intergenerational knowledge transfer

Jean‐François Harvey (PhD Candidate in the Department of Management, HEC Montréal, Montréal, Canada and SKEMA Business School, Sophia Antipolis, France)

Journal of Knowledge Management

ISSN: 1367-3270

Article publication date: 25 May 2012




The purpose of this paper is to provide the systematic analysis of an innovative, intergenerational knowledge transfer strategy in a knowledge‐intensive organization.


The case study method was adopted to study the intergenerational knowledge transfer activities. A triangulated approach was employed in respect of the data collection, which included non‐participatory observation, focus groups, documentary analysis, and semi‐structured interviews. A pattern analysis of data account was undertaken.


Two models for intergenerational knowledge transfer are presented: the source‐recipient model and the model of mutual exchange. This research also shows how a context conducive to knowledge transfer was developed, and concludes that this context allowed both explicit and tacit knowledge to be transferred.

Research limitations/implications

Often ignored or underestimated this study highlights the need for motivation, inspiration, and empowerment in knowledge transfer. The main limitation of this study is the generalizability of the findings.

Practical implications

The two models for intergenerational knowledge transfer provide a rubric against which both old and new intergenerational knowledge transfer initiatives can be assessed to determine whether they are capable of encouraging the transfer of both explicit and tacit knowledge.


There is little empirical work on the design and implementation of strategies for managing organizational memory. The integrated models and empirical results of this study can serve as guides in that process.



Harvey, J. (2012), "Managing organizational memory with intergenerational knowledge transfer", Journal of Knowledge Management, Vol. 16 No. 3, pp. 400-417.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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