The Dimensions of Tacit & Explicit Knowledge: A Description and Measure

The Dimensions of Tacit & Explicit Knowledge: A Description and Measure

Michael A. Chilton (Kansas State University, USA) and James M. Bloodgood (Kansas State University, USA)
Copyright: © 2008 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/jkm.2008040106
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Abstract

Knowledge workers are often employed to extract knowledge from domain experts in order to codify knowledge held by these experts. The extent to which workers rely on tacit or explicit knowledge may produce inefficiencies and reduce productivity if the information is not shared among those who need it or if it encapsulates strategic goals and is inadvertently shared with those who might undermine the firm’s competitive advantage. This article discusses the nature of tacit vs. explicit knowledge in terms of the dimensions thought to contribute to its degree of tacitness. We present the results of an exploratory study in which we develop an instrument designed to elicit perceptions regarding the nature of knowledge used by workers and their degree of reliance on tacit knowledge. It is an indirect form of measurement that eliminates the need to render the knowledge entirely explicit prior to measurement. As an additional benefit, it allows us to classify the knowledge along a continuum, ranging from entirely tacit to entirely explicit or somewhere in between. Use of this instrument by managers will help them identify pockets of tacit knowledge within the firm that could either be made explicit so that other workers can benefit from it or that could be prevented from becoming explicit should its strategic value require protection.

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