The Electronic Journal of Knowledge Management publishes original articles on topics relevant to studying, implementing, measuring and managing knowledge management and intellectual capital.

For general enquiries email
Click here to see other Scholarly Electronic Journals published by API
For a range of research text books on this and complimentary topics visit the Academic Bookshop

Information about the European Conference on Knowledge Management (ECKM) is available here.

For info on the International Conference on Intellectual Capital, Knowledge Management and Organisational Learning (ICICKM), click here
Information about the European Conference on Intangibles and Intellectual Capital (ECIIC) is available here

Journal Article

Identification and Amplification of Tacit Knowledge: The Positive Deviance Approach as Knowledge Management Praxis  pp17-27

Victoria Konovalenko Slettli, Arvind Singhal

© May 2017 Volume 15 Issue 1, Learning and Unlearning for Sustainability, Editor: Sandra Moffett, pp1 - 58

Look inside Download PDF (free)


Often the answer to solving complex social problems already exists in the community as some type of tacit knowledge, but it is hidden from plain view. By demonstrating how tacit indigenous knowledge can be identified and amplified through a problem‑solving approach known as Positive Deviance (Singhal et al., 2014), this article contributes to the understanding of the knowledge externalization process (Nonaka, 1994). The Positive Deviance (PD) approach is premised on the belief that in every community there are certain individuals or groups whose uncommon behaviours and strategies enable them to find better solutions to problems than their peers, while having access to the same resources. We propose five stages for the identification and amplification of the tacit knowledge in the PD approach. The first stage concerns awareness and breakout of the community “mental prisons.” The second stage refers to identifying the positive deviants—the carriers of the authentic experience and valuable tacit knowledge. The third stage suggests creation of particular conditions to facilitate the “paradigm shift”. The fourth stage indicates self‑discovery as the mechanism of knowledge transfer. Finally, the fifth stage highlights the importance of social proof as the justification mechanism for the adoption of self‑discovered knowledge as community members embrace the new practice. Through an analysis of two highly effective PD implementations in Vietnam and Argentina, we show how unearthing of tacit knowledge is fundamental to the PD approach, and represents a source of creativity and inspiration for finding efficacious solutions.


Keywords: knowledge, externalization, knowledge amplification, positive deviance, knowledge management praxis


Share |