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

Document Type

Journal article

Source Publication

Journal of Knowledge Management

Publication Date






First Page


Last Page



Emerald Publishing Limited


Oil and gas, Knowledge retention, Old age retiring workers


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.



Print ISSN




Funding Information

The work presented in this study was conducted at Knowledge Management Innovation and Research Center (KMIRC) and supported by the Hong Kong PhD Fellowship Scheme (HKPFS) of the Research Grants Council, RGC, The Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (Project Code: PF13 - 19,354). {PF13 - 19,354}

Publisher Statement

Copyright © Emerald Publishing Limited 2017

Access to external full text or publisher's version may require subscription.

Full-text Version

Publisher’s Version



Recommended Citation

Sumbal, M. S., Tsui, E., See-To, E., & Barendrecht, A. (2017). Knowledge retention and aging workforce in the oil and gas industry: A multi perspective study. Journal of Knowledge Management, 21(4), 907-924. doi: 10.1108/JKM-07-2016-0281