Save That Thought: A Case Study of How Knowledge is Transferred Between Baby Boomers and Generation-X Aerospace Engineers
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The current American workforce is at a crossroads due to the number of Baby Boomers either retiring or on the cusp of retirement. For many organizations, this cohort possesses knowledge and experiences that can be lost if this knowledge is not transferred before their departure from the organization. This ability to share knowledge is increasingly recognized both as a valuable asset for organizations and as a modern-day challenge for leaders. The purpose of this research was to explore the process of organizational knowledge sharing resulting from the Baby Boomers’ retirement. Using case study methodology and a single-stage sampling procedure, twelve participants were recruited to participate, and research questions were designed, to address how two generations of aerospace engineers describe their experiences with knowledge transfer and the strategies used to support such a transfer. Sources of information for this study were face-to-face, semi-structured interviews, organizational documents, and artifacts. Data were analyzed, generating codes and conceptual categories that eventually led to the emergence of the three themes of organizational knowledge transfer, promote knowledge sharing, and tacit and explicit knowledge. An analysis of these three themes resulted in three specific recommendations for action which were: (a) turning tacit knowledge into explicit knowledge, (b) creating knowledge sharing activities, and (c) developing purposeful leadership. Future researchers could explore management views of knowledge sharing and the impact on the organization.