All entries for Friday 03 May 2013

May 03, 2013

should we actually translate knowledge?

I was planning to write this entry long time ago, when we had seminar on how to translate tacit knowledge to explicit one. The thing is, that after doing some research I found that there are, mainly, two schools of thoughts: - those, who thinks that tacit should be translated and those who believes that it shouldn’t be translated but managed. Both of schools have their arguments. So, should we try to translate knowledge and make them more transferable, or we just need to know how to manage them appropriately?

Considering fist statement, some people regards tacit knowledge as the key source for making robust decisions, as this kind of knowledge is usually based on person’s past experience. Although, explicit knowledge or “book knowledge” is also plays a great role, it is tacit knowledge that are tested in real world situations, and, thus, recognized as more reliable. Therefore, the supporters of first school highlight the importance of tacit knowledge to be transferred to other people by translating them into explicit one.

On the other hand, there is another school saying that, precisely, because tacit knowledge is so valuable, they should be managed and transferred to others as they are. And this actually makes sense to me! If we consider SECI-model (Socialization; Externalization, Combination and Internalization) that shows the process of gaining knowledge it becomes clear that tacit knowledge in the end is transferred as tacit. To be more specific, lets analyze each step: 

  • Socialization: Learning is a social action, thus, interaction is needed for learning. Tacit to tacit;
  • Externalization: Knowledge should be shared. Tacit to explicit;
  • Combination: Knowledge is transferred by communication. Explicit to explicit;
  • Internalization: Knowledge are absorbed the knowledge training or exercising. Explicit to tacit.

Thus, it is fair to say, that although during the process of gaining knowledge tacit knowledge was converted into explicit one, in the end they still become tacit, as any knowledge should be, finally, applied to a real world situation. After they applied, they become tacit.

To conclude, I believe that both of the schools are right. As was observed earlier through SECI model, tacit knowledge does experience transformation into explicit one, but eventually, person gain tacit knowledge, so those type of knowledge are both transferred and managed, at the same time.


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