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Four generations of employees: Traditionalists, Baby boomers, Generation X and Generation Y, are now working together in organizations. This demographic diversity can provide benefits for construction and engineering organizations, but it can also hinder knowledge sharing across organizations. Because well-distributed knowledge sharing connections (KSCs) increase knowledge sharing across the entire organization, thereby enhancing performance, managers are focusing on how to facilitate these connections. With four generations working together within organizations, managers need to ascertain how to span generational boundaries to increase organizational knowledge sharing and to (1) determine whether generational attributes of employees impact on knowledge sharing patterns; and (2) identify the most frequent knowledge sharing (KS) methods that each generation uses to share knowledge within communities of practice (CoPs) in construction and engineering companies. To address this, data were obtained from 734 employees within three CoPs in two construction and engineering organizations headquartered in the United States. Using a unit of analysis of KSCs, the generational attributes of CoP members were mapped to their existing KSCs, along with their preferences for methods to share knowledge, to analyse the influence of generation on these connections. Findings show that even though survey respondents rated generational attributes as not important for maintaining KSCs, the generational attributes of employees influenced the existence of KSCs. Moreover, results indicate that there was no difference between generations in using the most popular KS methods of personal discussion and e-mail, while significant differences were observed in the use of instant messaging and meetings for different generations.

Sanei, M., Javernick-Will, A., and Chinowsky, P. (2013). “The Influence of Generation on Knowledge Sharing Connections and Methods in Construction and Engineering Organizations Headquartered in the US.” Construction Management and Economics. 31 (9), 991-1004. doi: 10.1080/01446193.2013.835490