Successful knowledge transfer (KT) between younger and older workers (YW and OW, respectively) is critical for organizational success, especially in light of the recent surge in employment volatility among the youngest and oldest segments of the workforce. Yet, practitioners and scholars alike continue to struggle with knowing how best to facilitate these exchanges. The qualitative study offers insight into this phenomenon by exploring how KT unfolds in YW/OW dyads. The authors performed a reflexive thematic analysis of semistructured interviews with two samples of blue- and white-collar younger/older workers from the USA (N = 40), whereby the authors interpreted the "lived experiences" of these workers when engaged in interdependent tasks. The analysis, informed by social exchange theory and exchange theories of aging, led to the development of the knowledge transfer process model in younger/older worker dyads (KT-YOD). The model illustrates that, through different combinations of competence and humility, KT success is experienced either directly (by workers weighing the perceived benefits versus costs of KT) and/or indirectly (through different bases of trust/distrust perceived within their dyads). Further, humility in dyads appears to be necessary for KT success, while competence was insufficient for realizing KT success, independently. In exposing new inner workings of the KT process in YW/OW dyads, the study introduces the importance of humility and brings scholars and organizations a step closer toward realizing the benefits of age diversity in their workplaces.
This article was published Open Access through the CCU Libraries Open Access Publishing Fund. The article was first published in Journal of Knowledge Management: https://doi.org/10.1108/JKM-01-2023-0013
Scheuer, C.-L., Loughlin, C., Ford, D. and Edwards, D. (2023), "Is competence without humility wasted in building the trust necessary for knowledge transfer in younger/older worker dyads?", Journal of Knowledge Management, Vol. 27 No. 11, pp. 231-252. https://doi.org/10.1108/JKM-01-2023-0013. Available at https://digitalcommons.coastal.edu/management/3/.
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