Critical areas of knowledge loss when employees leave in the oil and gas industry

Muhammad Saleem SUMBAL*, Eric TSUI, Ricky CHEONG, Eric W.K. SEE-TO

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to investigate the critical types of knowledge lost when employees depart companies in the oil and gas field. Design/methodology/approach: The study adopts a grounded theory methodology. Twelve semi-structured interviews were conducted with elite informants in the oil and gas sector to gain an in-depth insight into the research problem. ATLAS.ti was used for data analysis and coding. Findings: In the oil and gas industry, employees generally have job rotation and work at various geographical locations during their career. The departing employees possess valuable types of knowledge depending on the role and duties they have performed over the years. These include specialized technical knowledge, contextual knowledge of working at different geographical locations, knowledge of train wrecks and history of company, knowledge of relationships and networks, knowledge of business processes and knowledge of management. Research limitations/implications: The study findings might only be applicable to the oil and gas sector. Originality/value: This paper fulfills an identified gap on the identification of critical areas of knowledge loss when employees depart from oil and gas companies. The study adds to the existing body of literature on this underexplored area in the knowledge management literature.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1573-1590
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Knowledge Management
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 8 Oct 2018


  • Critical areas
  • Departing employees
  • Knowledge loss
  • Oil and gas


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