Tacit-Explicit and Specific-General Knowledge Interactions in CoPs

Tacit-Explicit and Specific-General Knowledge Interactions in CoPs

Tunç Medeni (Japanese Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, Japan)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59140-556-6.ch086
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Over the last decade the fields of knowledge management and organizational learning have developed rapidly, showing increasing diversity and specialization in the academic literature. Ikujiro Nonaka has played a leading role in setting standards and earning academic legitimacy for the emergent field of “organizational knowledge management” (Easterby-Smith & Lyles, 2003). In the period 1995-2001, the book The Knowledge-Creating Company (Nonaka & Takeuchi 1995) was the most-cited knowledge management work from academic literature (Koenig & Srikantaiah, 2004). Interestingly, in this book and in following works, the authors themselves prefer to use the term “knowledge creation” rather than “knowledge management,” later also dropping the term “organizational” from the initial proposition. Easterby-Smith and Lyles also state (2003, pp. 642-643) that in the field of organizational learning and knowledge management, among the topics of articles published in the last two years, “learning capabilities, experience, and absorptive capacity” is the largest category, including several articles that assess the impact of learning on performance. Seeming to be frequently interrelated, “organizational learning and knowledge management across boundaries,” “knowledge creation and transfer,” and “human resource management and human capital” are the next largest categories for articles. Communities of practice, socio-political processes, and the development of tacit knowledge or social identity are among the other topics frequently addressed in the literature, categorized in terms of “cognition, socio-political aspects, and tacitness.” Using the extant and emerging perspectives in knowledge management, organizational learning, and communities of practice literature, in the following sections of this short article, we will first discuss the importance of specific-general knowledge, and context for knowledge creation and management. Then we will introduce the conceptualization of “specific” and “general” knowledge interactions, and discuss a framework that proposes these interactions as contextual knowledge conversions for learning and practice. The following section will aim to contribute to the representation of our knowledge on these contextual knowledge interactions, using visualization tools like geometric figures. We will conclude our discussion by highlighting future research possibilities in the relevant research fields.

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