Knowledge Management (KM) tends to regard the explication of knowledge as thoroughly positive. In this paper, we argue that this attitude rests on misconceptions regarding the nature of implicit knowledge and knowledge explication. Rather than following undifferentiated imperatives to maximise the amount of explicit knowledge, practitioners of KM are better off considering the ambivalent effects of knowledge explication. For this purpose, we suggest applying the Tacit Knowing View (Neuweg, 2004) and C ontingency Theory to the problem of determining the right level of explication. The paper is divided into four parts. In the first part we trace KMs need for the explication and formalisation of knowledge. In the second part, we address theoretical misco nceptions. First, we apply Ryles finding that sloppy language use may lead to illegitimate assumptions toward explication. Secondly, we argue that, albeit superficial references to the work of Polanyi can be found throughout KM, actual epistemological po sitions rather seem to follow Popper. In the third part, we systematise limitations, problems, and side effects of explication. In the fourth part, we suggest the heuristic concept of explication optima as a framework for developing KM activities.
Keywords: tacit knowing, implicit knowledge, know-how, knowledge management, knowledge explication, knowledge elicitation, explication optimum, contingency theory, Michael Polanyi, Gilbert Ryle
In Search for a Theoretically Firmer Epistemological Foundation for the Relationship Between Tacit and Explicit Knowledge pp118-126
Tacit knowledge has become one of the most used buzzwords in many scientific areas, especially in the area of knowledge management, during the past twenty years. In the mainstream of contemporary KM literature the concept of tacit knowledge has been broug ht in a relatively rough way alongside the traditional conception of knowledge (explicit knowledge) without further analysing the theoretical coherence of the resulting epistemology. Moreover, tacit knowledge is usually defined only vaguely as knowledg e difficult to articulate as opposed to articulate, explicit knowledge. These factors have led to puzzling or even internally contradictory epistemological views. We critically analyse the predominant epistemological views in the knowledge management lit erature from the theoretical perspective. We outline a theoretically firmer epistemological model based on Polanyis original conception of tacit knowledge. We claim that although knowledge management is relatively new scientific area, its roots should be firmly grounded in the philosophical problems concerning knowledge if it is expected to present credible theories that could support knowledge management practices
Keywords: epistemology, explication, explicit knowledge, Polanyi, tacit knowledge, theory of knowledge
The field of knowledge management is still relatively new, with all but a few of its related papers and books published during the last 15 years or so. However, one of the most cited sources is a much earlier work on the topic of tacit and explicit knowledge, by Michael Polanyi (1958 and 1966). An examination of some 60 papers from three major knowledge management journals demonstrates that Polanyi's work has frequently been misinterpreted by some authors and further suggests that, in some cases, the citing authors may not have read the cited work. Further, this has led to misinterpretation of Polanyi's work in ways that have affected wider issues in knowledge management. Polanyi's work is still relevant today and a closer examination of his theory that all knowledge has personal and tacit elements, such that knowledge cannot be made fully explicit, can be used to both support and refute a variety of widely held approaches to knowledge management. In particular, it raises issue about the continued efforts to make knowledge explicit through the use of information systems, without consideration of wider social issues, as well as refuting those who use the issue of tacit knowledge to dismiss the field of knowledge management as a misguided concept. It provides support for more recent work on next generation knowledge management.
Volume 11 Issue 2 / May 2013 pp116‑185
This general edition of EJKM is a selection of Papers submitted to EJKM over the past months.
Keywords: external knowledge, incident report, experience-based, data collection, incident, acquiring knowledge, knowledge search, external knowledge search, knowledge acquisition, open innovation, exploitation, exploration, epistemology, explication, explicit knowledge, Polanyi, tacit knowledge, theory of knowledge,