Purpose - This paper evaluated how managers influence accidental and intentional organizational forgetting, i.e., knowledge depreciation, knowledge loss, and unlearning.
Design/methodology/approach - The literature was reviewed based on predetermined search terms to identify peer-reviewed articles published in English and available in full-text format from the EBSCOhost and Google Scholar databases. Empirical and theoretical contributions were included. Additional articles, books, and book chapters were manually selected and included based on recent reviews and syntheses of organizational forgetting work.
Findings - Findings revealed that managers contributed to preventing accidental knowledge depreciation and loss and preserving organizational memory. With respect to intentional forgetting, findings revealed contradictory positions: on the one hand, managers contributed to the disbandment of existing beliefs and frames of reference, but on the other hand, they preserved existing knowledge and power structures.
Research limitations/implications - The study was limited by the accessibility of subscribed journals and databases, research scope, and time span.
Practical implications - This paper provides useful guidelines to managers who need to reduce the disruptive effects of accidental forgetting or plan intentional forgetting, i.e., managed unlearning.
Originality/value - This paper represents a first attempt to review and define the influence of managers on organizational forgetting.