The tacit knowledge base


Although codified knowledge has its place, tacit knowledge has up until recent years proved elusive in its inclusion within organization's knowledge base. It is came to known that eventual successful modeling of this knowledge will ultimately be undertaken in several organizations in order to improve information capture and transference.

The tacit knowledge functions as a background knowledge that assists in accomplishing task that is in focus. The person's own knowledge is a personal skill that it cannot be disposed off. So a special Meta knowledge is required to integrate the knowledge. Tacit knowledge is the so called Meta knowledge which came into existence without everyone even knowing its details.


It is a knowledge that people cannot be readily written down, because it is based in skills. It emerges only when a person is doing something that requires such knowledge. The person who came with this theory of tacit knowledge is 'Michael Polanyi' (1891-1976). Polanyi was a chemist, and who became a philosopher later in his life. He thought that humans always 'know' and are always confused between tacit knowledge and focal knowledge, that this is in itself a tacit skill and can be used to blend new theory that can easily be understandable by people. Taken this as a context, it is better to define tacit knowledge itself as a method of knowledge.

It is often context specific knowledge about what to do in a given situation. Knowledge is a social concept but not private. That socially conveyed knowledge blends only with the experience made by the reality of the individual. That is why tacit knowledge cannot explain well by written or subjective form but can only be understood by self experience.


The concept of 'TACIT' kno­­wledge refers to a knowledge which is only known by an individual and that is difficult to communicate with an organization. The knowledge which is used as a tool to improve or handle a task that is in focus is nothing but tacit knowledge. Tacit knowledge is not easily shared. It consists of habits and culture that one cannot recognize in him/her. Its aspects are those that cannot be codified, but can only be transmitted through training or personal experience. It has been described as-

  1. 'know-how' (facts)
  2. 'know-why' (science)
  3. 'know-who' (networking)

Know-how is the ability to act in social contexts and that includes skill. It implies problem solving. Know -why, may lead to state of knowing facts about a particular object because question of 'why' can offer a number of questions to deal with. Know-who is also an important theme to expand his network.

It involves learning and skill but not in a way that can be written down. Tacit knowledge is nearly impossible to grasp and think on it. The only way to make most of the people to understand this concept is let them teach and get through it.

For instance, while reading a text, words and linguistic rules function as a subsidiary tacit knowledge, and the attention of the reader is only focused on what the text meant. Thus the meaning of a text holds in a comprehension of all the relevant instrumentally known particulars, just like the purpose of an action resides in instrumentally used particulars.

To make knowledge get exposed, language alone is not enough. That's why we can tell that we know more than we can write here. Facts are thus personal in a positive scientific sense. Through an act of assertion which contains tacit knowledge, facts can be tested for their truth.


There are three major approaches to the capture of tacit knowledge from groups and individuals. They are

  • Interviewing experts.
  • Learning by being told.
  • Learning by observation.

Interviewing experts can be done by recording organizational stories or form of structured interviewing. Structured interviewing is the most commonly used technique to capture tacit knowledge. Learning by being told is done bye task analysis or interviewing. Task analysis is a process of breaking an actual task and analyzing what needs to complete the task. Learning by observation refers to a presenting the expert with a sample problem and then observing to solve it.

Other techniques also include

  • E-learning
  • Action learning
  • Learning history
  • Ad hoc session.


Tacit knowledge is generally acquired with little support from other people or resources. The individual is not directly instructed about what to learn, but rather should extract the important lessons from experience, as learning is not the primary objective.

Everybody of us knows our environment involved of persons, food, clothes and many other tools. We also know that by what they are called and for what they are used. This is what we call tacit knowledge. It is also an example of tacit knowledge that we are recognizing our friends by seeing them and differentiating them from other people.

In our daily life, we do make some decisions for a situation in order to make it. We don't make those decisions by learning or reading in any manuals. This is what of using tacit knowledge.

  • A paper is made of small characters in Phoenician alphabet. While reading that paper, we cannot understand it as were not aware of those characters. You probably skimmed over the words, heedless of how they were composed, understanding only what that means. Even though you did not know the meaning of the characters, you just watch the words and somehow understand what they meant. This is so called tacit knowledge.
  • "The girl throws ball the" There is a grammatical rule involved in order to tell that the above sentence is incorrect. Were we even slightly conscious that we had learned that rule? Tacit knowledge goes beyond rules and meanings that we have learned and pushes them back beyond our consciousness.
  • To drive a nail, we use a hammer and attend to both but in a different direction. In general we think that nail is our concentration and hammer is the one we use for it. But not only the nail and hammer but there should be another thing that we should think is feeling of our hand and its awareness to drive a nail. Thus tools and rules may vary according to the concept. The knowledge of rules also functions as a tacit knowledge.

Tacit knowledge is not easily understood, and so as the things we do, ways we go and the language we speak, each and every regular thing involves tacit knowledge as we do them by regular experience and practice. Tacit knowledge only defines practice that cannot be written down in any formal concept.


As we already known that it is only by experience. This is what many organizations had done to improve their quality and quantity.

Many of the new clients learn the work of their masters through observation, practice and employees of a company through on-job-training. The employees are given proper training to attain the work. They share their ideas, methods to obtain better result. This is how an organization obtains good advance in their work. So employees are the main source for their development, they obtain the various knowledge possessed by their various employees and make use of it. Thus, when employees leave a company, the organization not only loses human capital but also the accumulated knowledge of that individual.

An example for the effort of an organization is within creation of Philips, the GE Company of yellow pages' getting listed with its unit's experts of different knowledge. This information regarding these experts has been used by the people who are in need of solutions for their problem concerned with electronics .So that they can gain more benefit by using its employees both directly and indirectly, this happened only because of the knowledge possessed by the individuals. This pattern can also explain tacit's Know-how as well as Know-who themes.

Another example given by Toyota refers to the tacit knowledge approach to transferring knowledge within a global organization. When Toyota wants to transfer knowledge of its production system to its new employees, it formed them into groups and makes them go for training and get observed about the production in its various factories around the world. After few months when their training had got finished ,these employees were sent to its new factories where they worked together and applied their training knowledge ,shared their views, methods in their work which had lead to a more advancements in their work. Thus they transferred their knowledge into a new knowledge.

Any organization does not obtain achievements by an individual's knowledge or hard work, it happens when different individuals having different kinds of talent and knowledge share their views, ideas and methods in order to make a better result.

In small organizations, usually tacit knowledge is applied by set of experts having diverse skills, generate a conversation at a time with other experts, build on others idea, and stay focused on the topic. And all these ideas are collected and discussed during the development process.

When coming to the large organizations, these experts are collected as communities, and can be amplified by interchanges to increase divergent thinking. That will be more useful for the company to check their backlogs and improve their quality through these experts.

Tacit knowledge is used by innovating team leaders and managers of an organization to aid convergent thinking by creating concepts for teams and guiding visions.


The concept of not holding tacit knowledge looks to be simple, but it may cause a remarkable difference when compared with a situation holding tacit knowledge.

When we take the case of not holding, if the person of an organization does not share their ideas, motives with other individuals of same category, there would not be any discussions made between them, and there by a chance to develop new ideas fails. New knowledge always gets created only when negatives are corrected among the previous versions. And this does not happen without sharing.

In an organization, as we were told in the previous topics, creation or advancement does not take place without sharing. The employees should practice this tacit knowledge in the form of different ways of sharing discussing. They may keep their views within themselves without them being exposed out. Sometimes it may benefit them by giving individual importance for him. But his work may have many deficits and that may recognized only by mutual discussing. So indirectly they themselves are making a way for their organization to attain a negative pathway.

If the employees does not follow or practice the work of his expert, there will be no chance for himself to improve his own talent and make it much better. Many of the people are willed to limit their only to a subjective work, but it works only for a limited advancement.

If the employees of the Toyota company as we mentioned above did not share their training experience among themselves, there may be no better improvement in quality maintaining circle of the world's largest automobile manufacturing company. Any of the successful company we talk about, they always maintain a proper relationship with their employees because they are the main root for their development. They do not know about the type of talent hidden in their employees. Generally they make the talented persons to share their views with the management so that they can modify the quality and quantity of their organization into a better world.

Not only successful companies, any organization no matter how big it, depends upon the views of their teams. For a standard base of a management there should be a good pillar, which is nothing but its team members. So everyone should transfer his knowledge between others which are a better form of tacit knowledge.


Using of tacit knowledge in knowledge management is more useful because it is fast to implement, relatively inexpensive and less challenging than explicit knowledge practice. This tacit knowledge management practices often creates organizational interest and therefore can become more energetic in developing more extensive knowledge management practices.

We can improve confidence among the organization by using this tacit knowledge as discussing and sharing is its main theme. Everyone likes to share his/her views with others so as to make them more advanced. It does not mean that, tacit knowledge alone should be used in order to attain achievements, but it is also can a company with other explicit knowledge.

Common goal of any organization is to produce a hybrid design. And in order to obtain such hybrid knowledge management practice, explicit knowledge can be used to extend the initial tacit knowledge wider. Using of tacit knowledge in everyday life as well in organizational history will be a better pathway for a particular development. Everyone should become aware of this knowledge and make use of it.

So a better understanding between group of individuals not only benefit themselves, but can make this world more better and wider, as world is nothing but all of us.

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