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Knowledge management as a managerial competency

Section 5 of the newly published knowledge management standard ISO 30401:2018 requires the top management of organisations to demonstrate leadership and commitment with respect to the organisation’s knowledge management system.

One way of helping to make this happen is for managers to be required to have knowledge management as a managerial competency. A recent paper1 provides evidence to support this.

The paper authors carried out a literature review to identify the most mentioned classifications of managerial competencies in empirical studies from 2005 to 2015. The study defines competencies as a set of observable or potential behaviours by which managers, as individuals, may demonstrate knowledge, skills, and attitudes or the synergy between them as personal attributes, adding value and achieving better results for themselves, other individuals, and the teams, departments, organisations, or networks that are consistent with the context, the available resources, and the adopted strategy.

From the literature review, the paper authors identified 19 categories of managerial competency:

  • Results orientation (found in 26 studies)
  • Ability with people and teams (found in 24 studies)
  • Leadership, coordination, and motivation (found in 19 studies)
  • Ability with change (found in 18 studies)
  • Communication (found in 17 studies)
  • Planning (found in 16 studies)
  • Knowledge management (found in 15 studies)
  • Organisation and control (found in 15 studies)
  • Strategic vision (found in 14 studies)
  • Negotiation (found in 13 studies)
  • Ability with conflicts (found in 12 studies)
  • Decision-making (found in 12 studies)
  • Ability to deal with problems and opportunities (found in 8 studies)
  • Critical, logical, and analysis/synthesis abilities (found in 8 studies)
  • Empowerment, delegation, and de-concentration (found in 7 studies)
  • Systemic vision (found in 7 studies)
  • Political and network articulation abilities (found in 5 studies)
  • Attitudes and values (found in 16 studies)
  • Knowledge, skills, and techniques (found in 15 studies).

Being found in 15 studies, knowledge management ranks relatively highly as a management competency.


  1. Freitas, P. F. P. D., & Odelius, C. C. (2018). Managerial competencies: an analysis of classifications in empirical studies. Cadernos EBAPE. BR, 16(1), 35-49.
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Bruce Boyes

Bruce Boyes ( is editor, lead writer, and a director of the award-winning RealKM Magazine (, and a knowledge management (KM), environmental management, and project management professional. He is a PhD candidate in the Knowledge, Technology and Innovation Group at Wageningen University and Research, and holds a Master of Environmental Management with Distinction. His expertise and experience includes knowledge management (KM), environmental management, project management, stakeholder engagement, teaching and training, communications, research, and writing and editing. With a demonstrated ability to identify and implement innovative solutions to social and ecological complexity, Bruce's many career highlights include establishing RealKM Magazine as an award-winning resource, using agile and knowledge management approaches to oversee an award-winning $77.4 million western Sydney river recovery program, leading a knowledge strategy process for Australia's 56 natural resource management (NRM) regional organisations, pioneering collaborative learning and governance approaches to support the sustainable management of landscapes and catchments, and initiating and teaching two new knowledge management subjects at Shanxi University in China.

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