Monday, October 24th, 2011
Australian companies are in danger of missing out on business opportunities by not harnessing the corporate knowledge held by middle-aged managers, according to a new study to be discussed today in Melbourne.

Speaking today at the Regional Conference on Gerontology and Geriatrics Wanda Pryor, PhD candidate from the Faulty of Business and Law, Edith Cowan University, says that a major adjustment in thinking about the value of corporate knowledge is vital for all businesses.

“Companies need to realize and build on the strengths of both younger and older workers in terms of building capacity that will sustain businesses into the future.”

In 2002/3 a KPMG knowledge management survey of the top 500 European organisations found that while 80% of organisations recognise knowledge as a strategic asset, 78% believe business opportunities are being missed due to failure to exploit available knowledge. An average 6% of revenue as a percentage of total turnover or budget annually was being missed from failing to exploit knowledge effectively.

While supporting Federal Government strategies aimed at encouraging workforce participation beyond the retiring age of 65, Ms Pryor says that the new focus is creating a paradox of strength and weakness.

“What is happening now is that the 55- 65 year olds appear to be denied the chance to continue working by employers unwilling to hire or retain them, or are voluntarily choosing to stop work before they reach 65.”

“This is at a time when Australia faces a shortage of labour and skills, as well as an ageing workforce. This new demography is already outnumbering the supply of younger workers which means if no attempts are made to identify, capture and share knowledge, a mass exodus of workers will cause a crippling loss of productivity,” she says.

Ms Pryor initiated the research following discussions with senior Australian executives who were not too concerned about the loss of specialised knowledge that follows when their high performing mature aged managers leave employment.

“We’re talking about a range of knowledge from where documents are through to how to do a job effectively.

“All too often remaining employees often search futilely for answers to questions that have already been answered, recreate analyses that have been conducted many times over or fail to heed previously learned lessons – all of which cost money and time.”

Contact Profile

Penny Underwood

P: 03 9818 8540
M: 040 99 252 99


Knowledge, Middle Aged Managers, Regional Conference for Gerontology and Geriatrics, Wanda Pryor, Edith Cowan University



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