Purpose: To explore how the predecessors and successors of Polish family businesses use and refine existing knowledge, identify knowledge deficiencies or absences, and create new knowledge during the working together stage.
Methodology/approach: The article builds on qualitative empirical material gathered in 2018 and 2019 with a problem-centered interview approach aiming to capture the complex and potentially diverging realities of both generations. Altogether, 48 preliminary interview questionnaires were completed and, subsequently, 46 interviews were conducted.
Findings: The study captured that the use of existing knowledge during the Working Together period is significantly supported by the fact that the old and young generation share several unarticulated beliefs, mental models, and behaviors. However, the identification of knowledge gaps and the creation of new knowledge are heavily hindered by the fear of confrontation and only declarative – instead of active – interest of the older generation in creating new knowledge.
Originality/value: The article bridges the gap between the literature on organizational ambidexterity and family business by empirically investigating the intergenerational dynamics of owners’ families regarding knowledge creation. Moreover, we introduce the concept of intergenerational familial ambidexterity.