The purpose of this paper is to show why to build ‘learning organisations' must be a central element of knowledge management. The paper argues that the wide use of information technology has a contradictory impact on knowledge management. On the one hand it extends the potential for codifying knowledge. On the other hand it makes tacit knowledge scarcer and it contributes to the formation of ‘a learning economy'. The argument is supported by an empirical analysis of survey data from Denmark showing that firms that introduce several organisational practices, assumed to characterise the learning organisation, are more innovative than the average firm. The paper contributes to the empirical foundation for the argument that learning organisations stimulate innovation and competence building and it makes an original conceptual contribution of practical relevance by linking knowledge management to HRM and innovation management.