The impact of knowledge management on competitiveness is widely acknowledged, however the method by which we choose to manage knowledge is contentious, and the pathways through which competitiveness is to be improved are often implied rather than specified. Through an analysis of the literature supporting the emergence of Alexandrian Patterns as a formalism for knowledge management, the authors relate the macroscopic factors of risk, innovation and competitive advantage to the design and in particular the specificity of the basic knowledge unit.