Expliciting Tacit Knowledge: Exploring an Uncharted Path for a Questionable Trip

Expliciting Tacit Knowledge: Exploring an Uncharted Path for a Questionable Trip

George Leal Jamil (Informações em Rede Consultoria e Treinamento Ltda, Brazil) and Ângela Do Carmo Carvalho Jamil (Independent Researcher, Brazil)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2394-9.ch002
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Organizations are still confused about tacit knowledge principles, conceptualization and applications. In this chapter, authors approach how tacit knowledge can be valuable for practical decisions and implementations, from theoretical and practical points of view. Approaching from the theoretical view, tacit knowledge definition was discussed, as it results from a conceptual development already adopted for several decades. From practical analysis, actual and future trends arise, as its applications and influences were consolidated, in the perspective on associating tacit knowledge with explicit, for planning, designing and implementing real businesses solutions. Modern competitive features and propositions, such as big data, information technology insertion and startups entrepreneurships are also discussed, serving as an orientation for new studies, as tacit knowledge plays a differential role for new ages of value-aggregation arrays.
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Living in a competitive world, always surrounded by ambitious and sometimes ferocious propositions to achieve challenging goals and continuous improved results, organizations fight to structure their working environments, along with precarious business processes definitions. Not only corporations, with economic, social, financial and performance must achieve levels that are negotiated with anxious stakeholders, but also social groups, governments, NGOs, and any group of members, face the challenge to communicate their results, producing images with optimal and aggressive outcomes. After that, in a continuum, these organizations are pressured to propose new achievements for new periods or scenarios.

This usual arena is demanded also by requirements for fast time-to-market decisions and implementations, introduction of new technologies and technology-based production platforms (as social media, mobile applications and services, big data contents, etc.), changes in economic and legal regulatory codes, among several other factors. This competitive, turbulent, fast-changing and demanding picture results in a dynamic and even chaotic, sometimes establishing informal processes and relations, setting a grueling context for managers who want to plan, in any level, actions and overall coordination among value-offering partners and external economic agents.

As in any academic or scientific organizational study, it is interesting, provocative and opportune to add, along with several other conceptions and propositions, the understanding of how knowledge can be managed in the researched cases. Knowledge, as it can be built from data and information, is regarded as a critical organizational component for several usual and infrequent tasks, plans and actions such as strategic planning, monitoring, innovation management, project design, effective customer interactions, among many others (Jamil, 2014). Paying specific attention to knowledge creation, sharing, retention, valorization and strategic application can result in an increased perception when investigating any case, allowing a manager to have a clearer evaluation around typical or uncommon decision-taking definitions and its related unfolding (Brockman & William, 2002; Choo, 2005; Sandhawalia & Dalcher, 2014).

The purpose of this chapter is to motivate, as a basic approach, to promote the debate on how tacit knowledge can be generated, applied and shared in one organization with a special focus on its perspectives to be formalized, through the explicitation process. In an initial perspective, this conversion, that seems to be desirable in all cases, can become impossible, or excessive resource-consuming (too long or expensive), or even inadvisable (Stenmark, 2001; Schoenherr, Griffith & Chandra, 2014). This chapter intends to address some common-sense beliefs around tacit knowledge, as the considerations of it always being inferior, less valuable when compared to explicit, not directed for reasonable, planned application, to be mandatorily explicited, and so forth.

This study was conducted with a conceptual background research, where the basic concepts were discussed and its relationships with other essential fundamentals evaluated. In the following, an observation of processes, methods and other aspects regarding knowledge management, specifically regarding tacit knowledge, is done allowing the focus for the proposition of generic cases, which will be analyzed in the next section. Finally, a real study case is detailed, regarding a Banking institution, where tacit knowledge was considered in a new proposition of telecommuting, as a major aspect when this new working method was introduced.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Strategic Knowledge Management: A view of two main organizational aspects regarding knowledge management: monitoring of knowledge applied for organizational strategic purposes and, as a derivation of this first approach, the knowledge application for strategic decision making.

Knowledge Management: A continuous process, regarded to any kind of management, that identifies actions, tasks and subprocesses focusing knowledge. Typically involves generation or capture, storing or registering, sharing, monitoring and valuation.

Explicit Knowledge: Refers to formal, structured, formally shared and registered type of knowledge. It usually refers to processes descriptions, routines, algorithms and logic descriptions. It was conceptualized from the Works of Dr. Michael Polanyi.

Tacit Knowledge: Refers to informal, intuitively generated, informally shared and registered knowledge. It was conceputalized from the Works of Dr. Michael Polanyi.

Social Media Knowledge: Unstructured, mainly tacit knowledge intensively produced, by means of social interactions by users, through social media platforms.

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