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Managing competence and learning in knowledge-intensive, project-intensive organizations: A case study of a public organization

Rolf Medina (SKEMA Business School, Lille, France)
Alicia Medina (Department of Management, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden)

International Journal of Managing Projects in Business

ISSN: 1753-8378

Article publication date: 6 June 2017




Competence management should no longer be considered as disconnected activities with few relationships with the organizational goals. It is the viewpoint that competence management as a whole consists of different mechanisms and strategies that involve many functions in the organization and link strategy, product/service development, and innovation. The purpose of this paper is to explore how a public knowledge-intensive, project-intensive organization manages competence in relation to its organizational goals and to identify which mechanisms are involved in this process as well as the underlying factors of those mechanisms.


The research was conducted following a single case study approach using several sources of evidence in a public organization responsible for public transport in the south of Sweden.


A theoretical framework called the competence loop is used as a platform. The results expand the framework by identifying underlying factors constituting the mechanisms and categorizing those factors in organizational and social dimensions. Another contribution is the competence concept including the factors that generate new competence. Furthermore, the study highlights that organizational culture has an impact on efficient competence management.

Research limitations/implications

This study was conducted in a public organization; similar studies should be conducted in other kinds of knowledge-intensive, project-intensive organizations.


The results provide support to practitioners when trying to understand how competence evolves, how to facilitate learning in organizations that are reliant on human resources, how to manage competence to achieve organizational success, and show the role of the project as a competence arena.



Medina, R. and Medina, A. (2017), "Managing competence and learning in knowledge-intensive, project-intensive organizations: A case study of a public organization", International Journal of Managing Projects in Business, Vol. 10 No. 3, pp. 505-526.



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Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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