Knowledge Management Positions and Roles
In this section, I will provide an overview of the knowledge management roles that one may find in a company. It is important to note that different companies may have some, all, or none of these positions. Furthermore, many will be part time roles (Skyrme 2011), representing a portion of an employee’s/manager’s responsibilities; this can even be the case for a top position like a CKO (Ning 2006). Alternatively, multiple roles may be integrated into one position, or the knowledge management responsibilities may be a part of more general functions (e.g. an intellectual capital manager, an information worker, etc.).
However, these are the general roles that one can expect to fulfill in one capacity or another if one pursues a career in KM.
Chief Knowledge Officer (CKO) / Chief Learning Officer (CLO): This represents the highest position within the field of KM. The CKO or CLO is responsible for the overall strategy, planning, and implementation. The CKO or CLO will be responsible for (Rusonow 2003 in Dalkir 2005):
- Formulating KM strategy.
- Handling KM operations.
- Influencing change in the organization.
- Managing KM staff
Due to the importance of this position, the required knowledge and skills of the CKO (or CLO) are specifically addressed in the section on Knowledge Management Skills.
Knowledge Manager: This is a general term for an executive who works with the CKO to implement knowledge initiatives and who manages KM efforts (Department of Navy, CIO). Examples of projects undertaken by knowledge managers include strategizing KM and change management, taxonomy construction, social network analysis, etc. (Ning 2006).
KM Champions / Knowledge Leaders: Promote KM in an organization (Dalkir 2005), often by championing specific initiatives, e.g. re-designing the intranet, facilitating communities of practice, constructing taxonomies, etc. (Ning 2006).
Knowledge Navigators / Knowledge Brokers: Someone who knows where knowledge is located (Dalkir 2005) and who connects people with knowledge to those who need it (Skyrme 2011).
Knowledge Synthesizers / Knowledge Stewards: This role is responsible for keeping knowledge up to date (Skyrme 2011) and recording significant knowledge to organizational memory (Dalkir 2005).
Knowledge Editor: Someone who manages the format and language of explicit knowledge so that a user can more easily utilize it (Skyrme 2011).
Knowledge Analyst: Someone who translates user needs into knowledge requirements (Skyrme 2011).
Knowledge Transfer Engineer: Captures and codifies tacit knowledge so as to facilitate its reuse. Also facilitates the transfer of tacit knowledge by connecting relevant people (Department of Navy, CIO).
Knowledge Systems Engineer: This is a systems expert who creates solutions for KM initiatives through the use of portals, intranets, databases, and so on (Department of Navy, CIO).
Apart from this, you have a whole host of positions involved directly or indirectly within KM, including everything from content publishers, human resource roles, mentors, librarians, etc (Dalkir 2005). In some capacities, such positions may receive a designation which includes “knowledge management”, e.g. knowledge management assistant.
The roles and positions outlined above are not exhaustive; there are countless other ways to organize and name the KM functions. However, they should cover the main responsibilities of KM workers and managers.
Alan Frost M.Sc., 2010 - Updated 2015