Table of Contents
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- Different Forms of Organizational Tacit Knowledge
- Challenges Posed to Knowledge Managers by Tacit and Situated Knowledge
- Difficulties for Managers in Managing Knowledge for Organizational Learning
- Managerial Implication of Tacit Knowledge in Practice
- Challenges of Managing Tacit Knowledge in Organization Setting
- Management of Tacit Knowledge in Organizations: Reflections
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Tacit knowledge is opposed to the explicit knowledge. In a broad sense, the concept focuses on collecting the things and aspects which are understandable in practice, but are difficult to explain in theory. The term is controversial because it is messy, sophisticated and is not worth in epistemic manner. The proper knowledge always exists in propositional form. In this respect, the conception of facts is not the type of concepts, which could be used for operating facts. Rather, it is a sort of terms which require new words to embrace its meaning. Thus, tacit knowledge is an implicit, symbolic form of expressing an algorithm, schemes which could be applied in practice to carry out the specific operations. Tacit knowledge is often taken for granted because it is the knowledge which has been accepted and does not need the explicit explanation. At the same time, it is often difficult to introduce a systematic overview of the acquired knowledge because it is concealed in practice. The symbolic form of explanation is another consequence as to why tacit knowledge is not accessible to the conscious examination. It is ambiguous to the degree to which performance of implicit knowledge is chosen to become challengeable. It seems that the action in which a person is involved is voluntary, as compared to the action a person decides to do knowing more accurately the way it should be accomplished because it is not monitored. In order to have a deeper understanding of tacit knowledge, it is necessary to place the emphasis on the analysis of different forms of organizational knowledge, challenges posed by tacit and situated knowledge, difficulties for managers in controlling knowledge for organizational learning, managerial implications, and personal reviews, as a result of the analysis.
Different Forms of Organizational Tacit Knowledge
In the context of current digital economy, the constantly emerging patterns of intellectual assets are becoming superior to natural resources, technology, finance, and commodity because they constitute the key factor in increasing competitive advantage. However, knowledge management is still important in the process of maturing, ceding the priorities to the above-enumerated issues. However, these issues are only aimed at accumulating the knowledge, which could later be applied to promoting the new schemes, strategies, and vision, guiding people for higher results and better outcomes (Jarrar & Schiuma 2010). Therefore, the variety of forms of organizational knowledge should be considered for a manager to gain a deeper understanding of the knowledge to be accumulated.
Before proceeding with explaining the aspects of tacit knowledge, it should be stressed that knowledge is an abstract term, which has identified epistemological debate in philosophy. For the past few years, there has been a growing tendency in the considering knowledge to be an important organizational asset. The enhanced interest in knowledge management and organizational knowledge derives from the concept of knowledge economy, which presents knowledge as the major source used for creating value and sustaining a competitive edge. With this in mind, there is a growing concern with organizational knowledge, contributing to the improvement of knowledge management systems. The purpose of knowledge management systems is confined to supporting, sharing, constructing, and applying the knowledge management to advancing the organization’s productivity and performance (Alavi & Leidner 2001). Overall, knowledge is the result of practical endeavors, experience, and efforts made by the human capital in the process of organizational management. Knowledge should be appraised by the company to further apply in future business activities.
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With regards to the above statements, there are three major types of organizational knowledge. The first one is organizational itself, which is defined as a range of replicable and repeatable organizational routines. New knowledge is generated, when enhancement has been presented to these routines. The outlooks on the process through organizational routines are strengthened and vary with reliance on the importance and acceptance of specific practices, as well as prioritization of tasks. Beyond these important concepts, there is also the discourse that is related to the essence of explicit and tacit knowledge, as well as the process through which organizational knowledge is being created. It has been suggested that “the challenge in organizational knowledge creation is making the tacit knowledge of individuals, and to some extent groups, explicit so that it can be shared and over time embedded in routines” (Evans & Easterby-Smith n. d., p. 7). At this point, having an idea of the transformation process and schemes, encouraging the support of knowledge creation, is the key to overcoming those challenges.
Challenges Posed to Knowledge Managers by Tacit and Situated Knowledge
Tacit knowledge is a controversial issue that mainly focuses on the development of new practical assignments. As such, the development of new products poses the challenges for knowledge management. To begin with, there are specific demands for increased productivity for product development. It is admitted that NPD process could have short-term product life cycles, which are even getting shorter and are compressing the acceptable time for window to recoup the costs, related to product development. Such situation places an emphasis on the ability to effectively accumulate the knowledge generated during the process, so that it can be used during the next generation of products for the purpose of decreasing the time needed to create the product. The re-use and capture is the key ground for improving productivity during the design phase of product development. The point is that the competitive pressure is aimed at improving productivity and reducing the product development process is significant. Due to the fact that challenges related to reusing and capturing knowledge are of knowledge management nature, which is being presented by New Product Development. The key reactions to these challenges differ from the application of knowledge systems to knowledge personalization schemes.
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Current product development organizations should foster the knowledge transfer through internal organizational obstacles. The stimulus to enable this knowledge exchange derives from a range of factors, such as the development of virtual groups which are being distributed geographically, the re-organization of NPD activities from a linear and concurrent schemes, as well as the necessity to enhance the communication flow between the organizational ventures which have certain problems with direct interactions, including sales and manufacturing stakeholders (Donnellan & Fitzgerald 2003). Apart from knowledge transfer, there are also some problems with high turnover rates, which prevent organization from retaining knowledge preserved in the minds of individuals who quit firms. Their experience and knowledge is acquired during their engagement into organizational activities, and their willingness to leave the organization deprives it of the competitive advantage. The knowledge leakage is considered as one of the major challenges of tacit knowledge management (Donnellan & Fitzgerald 2003). In general, knowledge is essential for supporting new product development during stage-gate process, which the product takes its route starting from the idea to the actual launching. Gates are the meetings during which the team discusses and examines the successful outcomes and gaps which need to be fulfilled. During these processes, NPD organizations are often challenged by the necessity of distinguishing between the different types of knowledge.
There is the significant difference between the tacit and situated knowledge, which poses certain challenges to organizations in terms of the distribution of responsibilities. When it concerns situated knowledge, Aboagye-Nimo, Raiden, Tietze and King (2012), “dissimilarities between organizations stem from differences in management style, training, risk management, site arrangement and use of safety equipment” (p. 2). Specific attention is being paid to small firms, where culture plays a tangible role in shaping the organizational environment. Supportive and trustful environment among works has been helpful for cultivating safety culture because employees agree with the fact that they can seek assistance on the part of their colleagues during the risky situations, which demonstrate mutual interest in increasing collaboration and success of organizational development. This implies the essence of situational knowledge. However, this type of knowledge is not always effective with large corporations, where cultural diversity is more respected. Therefore, the task of the organization is to integrate situated knowledge to small teams and department and promote a common structure through which safety standards are being followed.
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When it concerns the tacit knowledge, it should be congruent with the explicit aspect of working activities. Specifically, Aboagye, Tietze, and King (2012) suggest that “practical knowledge and judgment on site requires complex interaction of explicit and tacit knowledge gained through training, experience, guidance by leaders, experimental learning in new situations and from experts and experienced workers who have proceded us” (p. 416). Therefore, people who lack situated knowledge can be endangered because of their negligence of contextual culture, which poses the specific and implicit rules to follow.
Difficulties for Managers in Managing Knowledge for Organizational Learning
It is evident that knowledge management, regardless of type of knowledge involved, is aimed at advancing the organizational learning. Indeed, knowledge acquisition and information have become the pillars of effective businesses that have to learn to take control of assets in alternative ways to grasp the major marketing sector. Traditional accounting and financial systems have been developed to cope with the tangible outputs and inputs and are no longer effective. Rather, organizations tend to exchange the gathered knowledge and information more effectively to adjust quickly to a constantly changing external environment to retain competitiveness (Hovland 2003). Knowledge management strategies should combine the explicit and tacit knowledge to keep up with organizational activities and work on accumulating and creating new knowledge. As such, it has been reported that new knowledge generation is essential to keep the organizations ahead of others and be more flexible in the light of the coming unexpected changes and challenges. Successful organizations are ready to transform its mission with reliance to a turbulent setting. The corporate sector has introduced the evident connection between knowledge management and learning with the purpose of advancing organizational efficiency, which is evaluated in terms of profit and production scales (Hovland 2003). During the development stage, organizational learning and efficiency are important, but it is not the direct goal of the organization. Many agencies are working hard on measuring the extent of success in reliance on the influence of policy change and poverty reduction. Knowledge management and learning are linked to monitoring and constant evaluation, which help the companies to cope with the challenges and introduce the corresponding changes.
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Managerial Implication of Tacit Knowledge in Practice
Since tacit knowledge directly relates to practical activities, it is evident that it has many implications for the analysis. Thus, tacit knowledge is managed within groups of practice. The major task of manager includes the conversion of human capital into structural and explicit capital. Communities involved in practice have been defined as the place where the synergy occurs. A community of practice could also be identified as the group that exchanges knowledge and creates new practices, accumulating tacit knowledge. Such communities also share their insights, information, tools, and experiences and aim to learn about new areas of interest. It is always a discovery of something new through personal endeavors and by the means of methods of trials and mistakes (Irick 2007). Communities involved in the practice are driven by the empirical studies and provide the new recipes for creating the explicit knowledge. Knowledge management, therefore, starts to develop when political and economic problems take the control of situation. There are several explicit and tacit behaviors which have been introduced by the individuals and groups within the community of practice that work with the use of effective communication and collaboration.
Challenges of Managing Tacit Knowledge in Organization Setting
As it has been mentioned previously, the tacit knowledge underscores the understanding of forms of knowledge, which individuals in a firm have, pledging people to exchange knowledge within a firm and control the key individuals as the carriers of the knowledge. The perception of importance of intangible assets can create the key for effective competition. To enlarge on the issue, Mahroeian and Forozia (2012) have argued, “the tacitness of knowledge is tough to estimate but knowledge can be observed in a range where at one extreme end we find the entirely tacit and unconscious knowledge and at the other end the completely explicit, structured and coded knowledge” (p. 303). In this respect, the ambivalent nature of knowledge is opposed to synergetic relation could be for promoting a new level of knowledge acquisition.
The ambiguity of tacit knowledge makes it difficult for a manager to introduce the clear definition of knowledge and knowledge models. The existence of various forms of knowledge promotes the equitability and formal acceptance of practical assignments (Niedderer & Imani 2008). Nonetheless, tacit knowledge has a tremendous influence on innovation management. Specifically, Alwis, Hartmann and Gemunden (2004) state that innovation management implies monitoring the process which is aimed at introducing the combination and integration of diverse knowledge component. In this context, tactic knowledge contributes to the success of innovation because it focuses on a continuous synergy between theoretical and practical dimensions, leading to the emergence of four major modes of conversion, which can be used for mobilizing organizational resources and advancing the technological capability of the company. Currently, innovation success is becoming more important because it forces the companies to constantly renew their product and service portfolio, as well as offer new beneficial positions and propositions to their clients. Therefore, there is a clear connection between innovation and knowledge management.
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Management of Tacit Knowledge in Organizations: Reflections
The extensive review of literature on tacit knowledge and its value for organizational development reveals that it is an important asset which allows the workers and managers to acquire new practical experience, turning into skills, and tacit knowledge. The latter serves as a symbolic complement to the explicit knowledge and theoretical assumption, promoting the new dimensions of competitive advantage. A holistic understanding of intellectual property of an organization is supposed to enhance the value of intangible assets, in contrast to the currently tangible capital of companies, including human capital, finances, and other types of investments. Although tacit knowledge is a difficult term, it has the right to exist because it creates a firm ground for promoting the new dimensions of management. Knowledge is preserved by the employees, managers, and during discussions and interactions. It is generated during the fruitful cooperation and relationships. There different models of knowledge acquisitions which ensure the prioritization of specific tasks and assignment in which an organization is engaged. There is a specific connection between situated and tacit knowledge because both types take part in shaping a cultural environment within an organization and promote a firm ground for building the explicit theory. Tacit knowledge contributes to organization’s flexibility and readiness to change. It is the experience that employees could use in later endeavours to oppose to the high level of competition from beyond. Finally, tacit knowledge signifies to the richness and effectiveness of internal processes, shaping a holistic and consistent environment in which employees can interact and share their experiences. Such an approach to knowledge management shapes a sophisticated framework though managers can coordinate their actions and adhere to an organizational vision and mission.