Date of Conferral

1-1-2011

Degree

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)

School

Education

Advisor

Miranda Jennings

Abstract

Several decades of research document a growing communication gap between older adults and younger generations, with retirees limiting the information they share with younger generations. This limitation is often due to older adults' low self-efficacy and technology as a communication distraction, a trend which has resulted in the loss of intellectual capital for younger generations. The purpose of the study was to understand and increase knowledge transfer between retirees and unrelated younger people in a rural Canadian community. Communication theory of identity and social cognitive theory provided the research frameworks. The research questions examined what knowledge retirees could pass down, retirees' reasons for sharing knowledge, and the community's influence on generational communication. A qualitative case study incorporated several data sources including in-depth semi-structured individual interviews and focus groups (N = 40), and an analysis of existing literature. Transcribed recordings and field note analysis using open coding and peer debrief review resulted in 5 emergent themes. Key findings indicated participants felt they had little or nothing to share despite a variety of life experiences, found communication success with nontechnology-based catalysts, and felt the community has closed social circles. Transferring identity during retirement was difficult for many participants, a finding which supported the resulting project: a retiree social transition workshop. These findings suggest that those approaching retirement may benefit from identity transition support from employment to retirement, resulting in increased well-being in retirement, increased self-efficacy and motivations, and improved knowledge transfer to younger generations.