Business, College of


Date of this Version



A DISSERTATION Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Major: Business. Under the Supervision of Professor Mary Uhl-Bien.
Lincoln, Nebraska: July, 2009
Copyright © 2009 Michelle M. Fleig-Palmer


Organizations today face a dilemma regarding the retention of key knowledge workers. Knowledge transfer amongst employees is crucial for organizational productivity. Yet, this same knowledge transfer assists employees in improving their skill sets which increases their marketability and the potential for them to pursue career opportunities elsewhere. This study proposed that mentoring relationships can assist organizations in addressing this dilemma. Results of research conducted in a healthcare facility indicated that protégés reported higher levels of knowledge transfer and affective commitment. On average, protégés who reported higher levels of knowledge transfer were more likely to report higher turnover intentions. Supplemental analyses suggest that the affective commitment fostered in a mentoring relationship may attenuate the negative effect of knowledge transfer on retention. In addition, trust was demonstrated to be an important component of mentoring relationships. Using the Mayer, Davis, and Schoorman (1995) model of trust, significant relationships were demonstrated between receipt of mentoring, evaluations of a mentor’s trustworthiness, and a protégé’s willingness to be vulnerable to a mentor. We can conclude that the fostering of mentoring relationships may assist organizations in simultaneously promoting effective knowledge transfer and the affective commitment that assists in the retention of key knowledge workers. Since knowledge is a key resource in today’s economy, future research in this area is recommended to better understand how mentoring relationships may benefit organizations.

Advisor: Professor Mary Uhl-Bien

Included in

Business Commons