Capturing Tacit Knowledge from Transient Workers: Improving the Organizational Competitiveness

Capturing Tacit Knowledge from Transient Workers: Improving the Organizational Competitiveness

Salah Eldin Adam Hamza (SOFCON Consulting Engineering Co., Saudi Arabia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-555-1.ch012
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This article studies the way tacit knowledge is dealt with in a high turnover business environment through a qualitative research approach in an engineering organization with respect to organizational culture and values and the effect in competitive stance. The study found peer review process and managerial/supervisory style to be effective in enabling new employees in a short time with knowledge critical for them to do a successful job, core values, and open-door policy to be necessary factors in forming a fertile environment for a quick tacit knowledge harvesting. The study also showed that a good competitive stance and customer satisfaction can be achieved and maintained through implementation of a rigorous peer review process. The study revealed noneffective utilization of knowledge management (KM) technical resources. The study directs future research towards evaluating possible objectives for utilization of KM technological resources, timeline for effective codification of tacit knowledge, and responsibilities for handling resources.
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Organizational knowledge usually resides embedded in various types of forms including records, documents, procedures, processes, databases, routines, and practices. Davenport and Prusak (1998, p. 5) define knowledge as “a fluid mix of framed experience, values, contextual information, and expert insight that provides a framework for evaluating and incorporating new experiences and information. It originates and is applied in the minds of knower.” Several other definitions of knowledge were given by Nonaka and Takeuchi (1995), Alavi and Leidner (1999), Lai and Chu (2000), Murray (1996), Sveiby (1997), Polanyi (1966), and Biggam (2001). Since 1990, organizations realized that knowledge could be about diverse organizational aspects such as products, processes, customers, employees, partners, competitors, and good and bad experiences. Many organizations started since then to pay attention to manage this knowledge until it became a hot topic nowadays as many business communities trying to properly understand and implement it (Jennex, 2007).

In order to make the best use of knowledge, many initiatives emerged and evolved in the past seventeen years forming what has been known as KM. Nevertheless, still experts are debating and bearing different opinions on KM (Corral, Griffin, & Jennex, 2005). Jennex (2005, p. iv) gave one of the most recent definitions of KM when they state:

KM is the practice of selectively applying knowledge from previous experiences of decision making to current and future decision-making activities with the express purpose of improving the organization’s effectiveness.

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