Skills for knowledge management – A TFPL Report

Abstract: This report is the results of the first ever research project to investigate the roles and skills required to create and maintain a knowledge environment. Much has been written about the theory of knowledge management and how it is being implemented, but until now little was known about the knowledge leaders and their teams, the skills that they needed and the new skills that were required throughout the organisation to enable a knowledge culture.

It identifies and defines the key generic roles required to create and maintain a knowledge culture:

  • Defines the skills required in those generic roles;
  • Identifies a core set of skills – ‘information literacy skills’ – that are required throughout the organisation to enable knowledge creation, flows, sharing and utilisation, and that need to be embedded in the core competencies of any knowledge organisation;
  • Confirms that whilst the term Knowledge Management may be losing it’s capital letters, the concepts behind the term are fundamental to the future success of organisations in all sectors.

The report is based on the results of a major international research project looking at the roles and skills required to successfully implement knowledge management. The research was jointly funded by TFPL and the UK government’s Library and Information Commission and was carried out between November 1998 and June 1999.

The aim of the research was to identify the skills essential for creating and sustaining a knowledge culture – a culture where knowledge and information are valued and where knowledge creation, sharing and utilisation are a natural and instinctive part of business processes.

To achieve this aim TFPL identified organisations from around the world and from all sectors, that were already implementing knowledge management, or equivalent, initiatives. 500 organisations were identified and contacted and undertook in-depth case studies on some of those that had the most advanced programmes. We identified the roles that had been created to support the knowledge management initiatives, the skills and combinations of skills required in those roles, and the additional skills required across the organisation to ensure that the initiatives worked efficiently and effectively.

The results and conclusions of this work are presented in this report in the context of the emerging knowledge economy.

Author(s): TFPL Director, Sandra Ward, explores trends since the publication of the report in her article Mobilising Knowledge: Skills for working in knowledge environments.


  • Chapter 1 – Context – the knowledge economy
    Skills and competencies in a knowledge economy
    Skills and competencies in KM organisations
  • Chapter 2 – The corporate response – knowledge in action
    KM as a continuous improvement model
    KM penetration
    A KM approach rather than a KM label
    KM objectives and features
    Common significant activities
  • Chapter 3 – Knowledge processes and information complexity
    Knowledge processes and activities
    Knowledge flow and complex information
    Diverse information roles
  • Chapter 4 – Information literacy
    Knowledge workers
    Corporate information literacy
    Information literacy competence
    Information management understanding
  • Chapter 5 – Knowledge management structures and roles
    Generic roles
    Recruitment and the background of people filling the roles
  • Chapter 6 – Skills and competencies for the KM team
    Roles and skills profiles
    Skills profiles and skills map
    Information management in knowledge management
  • Chapter 7 – Developing skills for the knowledge economy
    Key messages
    KM education
    LIS education departments and KM education
    Corporate KM training
    Tailored KM training
    Public and not for profit
    Sector specific training
    Internet and community training
    Commercial training
  • Appendix A – Background and methodology
    Context of the study
    Aims of the study
    Methodology detail
    Observations on the methodology
  • Appendix B – Bibliography

Angela Abell and Sandra Ward: Skills for knowledge management: building a knowledge economy. A report by TFPL Ltd. London: TFPL Ltd., 1999, ISBN: 1870889843, 120 pages

Copyright © TFPL Inc.

Related resources:

  • Angela Abell and Nigel Oxbrow: Skills for Knowledge Management. A briefing paper by TFPL. London: Library and Information Commission (Briefing Paper), June 1999 | Full text »
  • Angela Abell and Nigel Oxbrow: Skills for the Knowledge Economy: the reality of the market-place. Business Information Review, September 1999, vol. 16 no. 3, pp. 115-121 | Purchase from publisher »
  • Angela Abell: Skills for the 21st Century. Journal of Librarianship and Information Science, 30 (4), 1998: 211-214 | Purchase from publisher »
  • Angela Abell & Val Skelton: TFPL knowledge and information management competency dictionary. London: TFPL Ltd., 2003, ISBN: 1 870889 86 X, 82 pages | Purchase from publisher »
  • Angela Abell and Nigel Oxbrow: Competing with Knowledge: The information professional in the knowledge management age. Facet Publishing & TFPL, 2006 (1st ed 2001), 288pp, ISBN: 9781856045834 | Purchase from Publisher »
  • Abell, A.: Skills for Knowledge Environments. Information Management Journal 34(3): 33-41 Full text » (TheFreeLibrary, no figures)
  • Oxbrow, N.: Skills and Competencies To Succeed in a Knowledge Economy. Information Outlook, Volume 6, Issue 10, p18-22 Oct 2000 Full text » (SJSU ScholarWorks)
  • Abell, Angela; Oxbrow, Nigel: People who make KM work: CKO, CKT, or KT? In: Liebowitz J. (ed): Knowledge Management Handbook, CRC Press, 1999: Ch 4 | Preview » (Google Books)

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