Age and Knowledge Sharing

Age and Knowledge Sharing

Employee age has an impact on willingness to share knowledge. Several studies offer age as one of many variables (Ojha, 2005; Riege, 2005). For the most part, researchers show that the more age compatible a team is, the more likely that team will engage in effective knowledge sharing. Thus, age differences are likely to stifle knowledge sharing. However, there will often be teams where age diversity is present. Older workers are sometimes technology resistant or may feel threatened by younger employees they consider rivals. Slagter (2007) recommends a more proactive management style toward older employees to facilitate successful use of knowledge management.

Jakobson (2008) documented the use of Communities of Practice at the Des Moines-based Weitz Company. Weitz implemented Communities of Practice as a way of enabling its workforce, which exhibited a wide diversity in ages, to collaborate more effectively. Weitz invested in its employees through a variety of methods, including job rotation, shadowing programs, executive internships and mentoring. However, older Weitz employees were suspicious that the mentoring program was designed to drain their experience before terminating them. To counter this negative feeling about mentoring, Weitz created Communities of Practice in which junior and senior employees came together to share best practices; thus, the senior employees were not just offloading knowledge.




Jakobson, L. (2008, February). Save the knowledge. Incentive, 182(2), 42-43.

Ojha, A.K. (2005, July-September). Impact of team demography on knowledge sharing in software project teams. South Asian Journal of Management, 12(3), 67-78.

Riege, A. (2005). Three-dozen knowledge sharing barriers managers must consider. Journal of   Knowledge Management, 9(3), 18-35.

Slagter, F. (2007). Knowledge management among the older workforce. Journal of       Knowledge Management, 11(4), 82-96.

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