2019-Kate Black

Inter-generational knowledge creation, curation and circulation

Principal Investigator: Dr Kate Black (Newcastle Business School, Northumbria University)

Project summary: Knowledge is the life-blood of developed economies and this research examines how knowledge is created, curated and circulated within case-study knowledge-intensive organisations. Knowledge largely resides with and between individuals. However, with the extension of working lives, organisations are increasingly age diverse and research reports significant challenges in inter-generational communication, and, by extension, knowledge creation and circulation. Therefore, an inter-generational focus is taken. While there is a growing body of literature on inter-generational workplace learning these studies have typically taken a knowledge-acquisition approach to understand knowledge as an entity that is readily transferred between generations. By contrast, in this research, knowledge is understood as a dynamic socio-cultural construction.

The empirical study sought to answer, “How is knowledge created, and circulated between generations within knowledge-intensive organisations?” Based within the case-study context of a UK Business School, it explored the narratives of early and later-career workers, elicited through artefact-informed, loosely-structured interviews. The selected case-study has direct value to management-educators through enhancing the researcher’s understanding of knowledge circulation within their own context.

Analysis is focussing upon inductive interpretation of participant narratives. Initial findings indicate how new knowledge-workers develop the identities and implicitly the knowing of capable practitioners and significantly, how this can be facilitated or inhibited intentionally, or unintentionally, by members of the community. Analysis is though still on-going.

Better understanding knowledge circulation will enable critical appraisal of the management-education curriculum, a curriculum that typically fails to examine the nature of management knowledge or inter-generational issues such as the power dynamics of knowledge circulation.