Knowledge retention and aging workforce in the oil and gas industry : a multi perspective study

Muhammad Saleem SUMBAL, Eric TSUI, Wing Kuen, Eric SEE-TO, Andrew BARENDRECHT

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

40 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to investigate how companies are handling the issue of knowledge retention from old age retiring workers in the oil and gas sector. This is achieved by providing a detailed insight on the challenges and strategies related to knowledge retention through study of companies from different geographical locations across the globe. Design/methodology/approach: The study adopts a qualitative research methodology and 20 semi-structured interviews, with open-ended and probing questions, were conducted to gain an in-depth insight into the knowledge retention phenomena. Findings: Knowledge retention activities tend to be inconsistent in majority of the oil and gas companies, with not much work being done regarding knowledge loss from old employees, partly because of the fall in oil prices and layoffs. Oil prices turn out to be a decisive factor in oil and gas industry regarding workforce and knowledge retention activities. The political situation and geographical locations of the companies also affect the knowledge retention activities. Moreover, the aging workforce and retirement issue is more acute in the upstream sector. Research limitations/implications: The focus of the study was on the oil and gas sector, and thus the research results may lack generalizability. Originality/value: This paper fulfills an identified need for investigating the issues and challenges of knowledge retention regarding old age retiring employees by taking into account a global perspective and providing a comparison among different companies in different geographical locations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)907-924
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Knowledge Management
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Knowledge retention
  • Oil and gas
  • Old age retiring workers


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