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The ISO 30401 knowledge management systems standard – a new framework for value creation and research?

Peter Pawlowsky (Chemnitz University of Technology, Chemnitz, Germany)
Nina S. Pflugfelder (Chemnitz University of Technology, Chemnitz, Germany)
Maik H. Wagner (MW Wissenskommunikation, Frankfurt am Main, Germany) (Institut für Wissensökonomie, Dortmund, Germany)

Journal of Intellectual Capital

ISSN: 1469-1930

Article publication date: 4 March 2021

Issue publication date: 27 April 2021




The article reviews major developments in the literature on knowledge management and intellectual capital management. It provides a description and visualization of the structure and content of the ISO 30401 and critically benchmarks its clauses against comprehensive taxonomies from the literature.


2018 saw the release of the ISO 30401 Knowledge Management Systems Standard, a type A regulation which may serve as a basis for certification. It builds on and integrates a broad and conceptually diverse literature on knowledge resources (e.g. intellectual capital theory, knowledge management theory). This article aims to show how the management systems standard relates to the literature it is built on and provides directions for its further operationalization by certification bodies and implementation by managers.


The ISO 30401 successfully integrates a diverse body of literature in a broadly applicable cross-industry standard. To operationalize and implement it, certification bodies and managers should build on empirical evidence of “what works,” taking into account market characteristics as well as organizational properties. Further research should support the implementation of the standard by developing KM measurement frameworks and context-specific studies of KM tools and methods.


This article is the first to systematically compare the ISO 30401 to the underlying theory. This paper uncovers avenues for research and makes suggestions for the standard's operationalization in practice.



The authors would like to thank Christiane Hellmanzik for her fruitfull suggestions and discussions in connection with the preparation of the text. The authors thank Kristina Dimitrova for research assistance.


Pawlowsky, P., Pflugfelder, N.S. and Wagner, M.H. (2021), "The ISO 30401 knowledge management systems standard – a new framework for value creation and research?", Journal of Intellectual Capital, Vol. 22 No. 3, pp. 506-527.



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