Managing Knowledge Assets

Managing knowledge can be difficult because knowledge itself is an elusive concept. Researchers have argued that knowledge takes the form of three competitive assets: (1) Human capital – individuals’ stocks of know-how, skills and expertise; (2) Social capital – knowledge held in groups and networks of people; and (3) Organisational capital – knowledge embedded in databases, routines, patents, manuals, organisational structures, etc.

February 2013

Human capital is considered to be the most unstable knowledge asset because employees’ skills and expertise can only be ‘rented’ temporarily from the market. High-level expertise is valuable, rare, and hard-to-imitate – and as such, it’s in short supply. By 2020 the global shortage of highly skilled, university-educated workers is expected to reach 40 million. What can companies do to prepare?

1. Undertake a skills inventory: Make a detailed estimate of the types and amounts of skills your firm will need to execute its short and medium term strategies. Then create a precise inventory of the people inside the company that possess these.

2. Analyse how skills are utilised: Should current and future roles be restructured? How should recruitment, hiring, and training change? Should new talent sources be leveraged?

3. Redesign jobs: Shift tasks that require scarce skills, but that do not depend on in-person interaction or physical proximity, to people in less costly locations. Use outsourcing and contracting when expertise is needed as a one-off or infrequently.

4. Rewire processes and cultures for knowledge management: Cultivate specialists who have the potential to take on broader roles or to become leaders; develop IT systems to make expertise available explicitly; and invite remote specialist to join cross-functional teams and have company leaders meet with specialist groups regularly.

Referenced techniques


Knowledge Management

This concept provides a review and interpretation of previous work on knowledge management and offers a comprehensive account of benefits achieved by properly managing knowledge, implementation information and success factors.


Human Capital

The view of human resources as a form of capital is not new, but only recently practitioners and academics have turned their attention to the benefits of the efficient employee management. The concept describes these benefits and reviews the success factors and implementation information that will help you improve your HR strategies.


Knowledge Capital

The concept reviews the critical points of current knowledge including substantive findings as well as theoretical and methodological contributions to knowledge transfer and intellectual capital. It also presents a compilation of possible and potential benefits and offers selective resources for further exploration.

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