The National Academies

TCRP F-23 [Completed]

Knowledge Management Resource to Support Strategic Workforce Development for Transit Agencies

  Project Data
Funds: $300,000
Research Agency: ICF International
Principal Investigator: Candace B. Cronin
Effective Date: 11/3/2015
Completion Date: 5/3/2017

Transit leaders agree that the industry is experiencing a growing number of challenges regarding human capital and institutional knowledge. Transit agencies are facing an exodus of employees due to retirements, low retention of highly skilled employees, and an increasingly mobile workforce. Employees leaving transit agencies, in many cases, are individuals who possess specialized knowledge and unique experience that are critical for sustaining efficient operation of the agency. This is occurring at a time when transit agencies are facing increasing customer expectations, aging infrastructure, rapidly changing technologies, shifting ridership patterns, and continuing budget constraints. It is imperative that transit agencies take steps to preserve critical knowledge and proactively plan for the workforce needs of the future. As a result of internal and external pressures, transit agencies are looking to other transportation modes, different industries, and the private sector for best practices to manage and transfer knowledge to support sustainable operations and effective performance in the future. Moving forward, it will be essential for transit agencies to proactively invest in efforts to identify what knowledge is needed now and in the future; where that knowledge is located (e.g., people, systems, artifacts, culture, standard operating procedures); who needs it; and how to best disseminate or transfer knowledge. Knowledge management (KM) is the identification, collection, organization, and dissemination of critical knowledge within an organization. According to the Business Dictionary, http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/knowledge-management.html, accessed 4/21/2015:
KM includes strategies and processes designed to identify, capture, structure, value, leverage, and share an organization's intellectual assets to enhance its performance and competitiveness. It is based on two critical activities: (1) capture and documentation of individual explicit and tacit knowledge and (2) its dissemination within the organization.

Research is needed to advance KM practices for transit agencies and to describe KM’s relationship to strategic workforce development. Such research should provide guidance on KM practices; context and resources for effective use of such practices by transit agencies; and the specific tactics likely to be effective in addressing KM for transit agencies.

The objective of this research is to develop a resource for transit agencies on KM to protect institutional knowledge and support strategic workforce development. The resource should help transit agencies ensure continued access to specialized knowledge of operations and business practices. The resource must:
  1. Address the KM needs for (a) transit agencies of different sizes and modes, (b) different transit functions (operations, maintenance, administration), (c) different organizational levels (front line, supervisory, middle management, and top management), and (d) transitions between organizational levels.
  2. Present best practices, methods, and tools to promote KM. These practices should serve transit agencies that may be experiencing significant challenges such as high rates of turnover, numerous retirements, difficulty hiring people with necessary skills, and rapidly evolving technology.
  3. Present best practices and methods for forecasting new and changing skills and knowledge, recognizing expertise that is becoming obsolete and emerging skills and future knowledge requirements.
  4. Identify significant barriers to effective KM at transit agencies (e.g., managing resistance, funding challenges, systems integration) and how the barriers have been and could be successfully overcome.
  5. Present specific implementation tactics for KM strategies.
  6. Include a national catalogue of workforce development and KM programs and resources that may be valuable to transit agencies.
STATUS: The research project  is complete.  The final report has been published as a pre-publication  and will be published in the regular TCR series as TCRP Report 194: Knowledge Management Resource to Support Strategic Workforce Development for Transit Agencies.

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