Purpose – Deployment of KMS suffers from low adoption in organizational reality that is attributed to a lack of perceivable added value for people in actual work situations. Poor task/technology fit in the process of knowledge retrieval appears to be a major factor influencing this issue. Existing research indicates a lack of re-contextualizing stored information provided by KMS in a particular situation. Existing research in the area of organizational memory information systems (OMIS) has thoroughly examined and widely discussed the topic of re-contextualization. The article thus examines how KMS design can benefit from OMIS research on approaches for re-contextualization in knowledge retrieval. Design/methodology/approach – We examine OMIS literature and inductively derive a categorization scheme for KMS according to their strategy of re-contextualizing knowledge. We have validated the scheme validated in a multiple case study that examines the differentiatory value of the scheme for approaches with various re-contextualization strategies. Findings – The classification scheme allows step-by-step selection of approaches for re-contextualization of information in KMS design and development derived from to OMIS research. The case study has demonstrated the applicability of the developed scheme and shows that the differentiation criteria can be applied unambiguously. Research limitations/implications – Due to the chosen case study approach for validation, the validation results may lack generalisability. Practical implications – The scheme enables an informed selection of KMS appropriate for a particular OMIS use case, as the scheme’s attributes serve as design rationale for a certain architecture or constellation of components. Developers can not only select from various approaches when designing re-contextualization, but also come up with rationales for each candidate due to structured representation. Hence, stakeholders can be supported in a more informed way, and design KMS more effectively along organizational change processes. Originality/value – The article addresses an identified need for systematic characterization of KMS approaches and systems intending to meet the objectives of OMIS. As such, it allows streamlining further research in this field, since approaches can be judged according to their originality, and positioned relative to each other.