Organisational Factors Affecting Knowledge Retention in a Public Organisation


  • Joshua Azaki University of Cape Town



knowledge retention, knowledge management, organisational factors, knowledge-based view, public organisation


Knowledge is a strategic resource for any organisation to maintain optimal operational efficiency and competitiveness. Knowledge could be in the knower's mind (tacit) or codified and stored in knowledge repositories for retrieval when needed (explicit). Knowledge retention in organisations is becoming a global concern as the shortage of professionals or knowledge workers persists. Organisations over the years have focused on investing in activities leading to knowledge creation, improving technological capabilities, and increasing performance with less attention given to knowledge retention. The Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated this concern leading to the exit of more knowledge workers from organisations voluntarily or involuntarily. The current study seeks to investigate the role of organisational factors on knowledge retention in public organisations using the water sector in a South African metropolitan city. This study seeks to deepen the knowledge management scholarship by viewing knowledge retention as a system rather than a process or strategy only, as explored by most studies. The water sector is a knowledge-driven sector that utilises heterogeneous knowledge (engineers, hydrologists, technicians, IT specialists) to achieve its mandate, making it information and knowledge-rich. This study intends to use the knowledge-based view as a sensitising lens to explore how a public organisation systemically integrates and coordinates its heterogeneous knowledge resources to ensure that knowledge is retained as well as maintain optimal operational efficiency. The basic assumptions of the knowledge base view are that knowledge is the most strategic resource in an organisation, and its coordination facilitates optimised efficiency. The study will adopt a pragmatist paradigm to uncover the role of organisational factors on knowledge retention. A purposive sample of supervisors and managers in the water sector will be interviewed. Qualitative data will be collected, and qualitative methods will be used to analyse the data.