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The knowledge needs of innovating organisations

Simpson, B.M. (2002) The knowledge needs of innovating organisations. Singapore Management Review, 24 (3). pp. 51-60. ISSN 0129-5977

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The sustainable management of innovation is perhaps the single most vital element of executive work in today's business environment. This has driven knowledge management theorists to revitalise interest in the concept of 'competency'. However, this theoretical domain continues to be fragmented by definitional debate. At a micro-level of analysis, Human Resources Management theorists have embraced the idea of managerial competencies, resulting in the elaboration of frameworks and standards of performance for the targeted development of individual knowledge. By contrast, at the macrolevel the Strategic Management literature has focussed on developing new concepts of competition and cooperation that emphasise organisational knowledge as the driver of strategic change. In this context, competence-based competition implies that competitive advantage is bestowed by an organisation's unique combination of core competencies. This definitional debate is a major obstacle to the development of an integrated perspective on competency and the knowledge needs of innovating organisations. This conceptual article asserts that, since innovation involves a learning process, it is necessary to develop process-based theory rather than the static categorisations that currently dominate thinking in this area. Drawing on theories from the field of learning, the article proposes a three-dimensional framework of knowledge-based competencies that are interlinked and meaningful across levels of analysis.