Date of Conferral

1-1-2009

Degree

Ph.D.

School

Management

Advisor

Howard Schechter

Abstract

Knowledge loss, or organizational forgetting, is often overlooked in knowledge management frameworks, yet it costs organizations money, personnel, efficiency, and customer service. The purpose of this mixed model case study was to understand, using a model of forgetting as the conceptual framework, where and why loss occurred and to examine performance implications. An inbound telephone contact center was studied because of prolific changes in that industry regarding knowledge complexity and performance. The researcher interviewed 20 participants, observed 63 calls, and reviewed 3 months of performance data including average handle time, first call resolution percentages, and time spent on after call work. Key research questions addressed areas of loss, contributing factors, and operational impacts. Using theme-based coding and chi-square goodness of fit analyses for the qualitative data coupled with descriptive analyses and frequency distributions for the quantitative data, results showed that loss occurred because of attitudinal resistance to change, unlearning, and lack of organizational standards. Average handle time and first call resolution metrics were negatively impacted. Contributing factors included culture, leadership support, and limited follow-through from lessons learned. Recommendations include establishing a formal disposal process to remove outdated knowledge from knowledge management tools and establishing incentives to encourage employees to contribute knowledge, which can lead to higher staff engagement of those tools and improved customer service. The social change significance is that addressing knowledge loss can promote fiscal sustainability and revenue generation, thereby preventing layoffs or organizational closures.