May 19, 2013

Tacit and explicit knowledge

Today is when I really got to know the difference between tacit and explicit knowledge. I have to admit that during the lectutres, I never really made an effort to know what they mean and when reading, I sort of took what my classmates said it was. As I was reading today, I found myself asking the question what exactly is tacit or explicit knowledge and that is when after researching a bit, I discovered the difference. Suffice to say tacit knowledge is inexpressible easily while explicit knowledge is expressible and can be shared easily. However, contary to what the book said, I disagree with swimming or riding a bicycle being a good example of tacit knowledge. I think, rather, I know one can transfer the knowledge of riding a bicycle or swimming to another person. It can be shared. I do not understand why one would consider swimming a good example of tacit knowledge. Further research I need to do.

That said, I appreciate that there are different forms in which one can posses such knowledge and the vast ways of sharing makes it easy to disseminate information, especially with rise of ICT.


- 5 comments by 2 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. Andrew Sundell

    Maybe I’m just thick, but I can’t help feeling compared to your writting’s my brain is that of a natt’s and your’s that of a planet! I take solace that if the truth were spoken I would be shown not to be alone.

    19 May 2013, 23:03

  2. Maureen Wandati

    hahhahahahah! A man of integrity is definitely not thick! I bet you can write far better than I can. Plus I believe you are wiser than I am so in fact, I would say my brain is that of a natt’s and yours that of a planet! I just glad that I am here at Warwick gaining and acquring knowledge that will translate to my becoming an excellent writer one day. Sometimes I feel I cannot convey my thoughts properly in writing but your encouragement has been making me more confident to write what I think in the belief that it makes sense and it is understandable. So in that respect, I think its safe to say I am doing better and improving.

    20 May 2013, 13:23

  3. Khalil Daya

    Maureen…..I disagree with two points you’ve raised…First you say the difference between tacit and explicit knowledge is that “tacit knowledge is inexpressible easily while explicit knowledge is expressible and can be shared easily”. Well, this is an implication of the difference between tacit and explicit knowledge. The difference is that tacit knowledge resides in people’s minds in form of skills and experience or what is commonly known ‘know how’. For example many of WSPA skills are tacit knowledge which now resides in your mind after you’ve followed the relevant workshops. On the other hand explicit knowledge is a kind of knowledge that you can read on a webpage, in e-learning material or even on a piece of paper. In other words explicit knowledge could be stored outside of people’s minds on computers or papers and it is commonly referred to as ‘know what’. for example explicit knowledge is very much the material you’ve read on asset and knowledge management webpages of moodle in KBAM module. To make life simpler for you: in terms of the ‘data, information and knowledge’ pyramid, explicit knowledge is pretty much information whereas tacit knowledge is pretty much knowledge. Second, an implication of not differentiating correctly between tacit and explicit knowledge, you’ve made two statements which i disagree with. first, you’ve said ” I disagree with swimming or riding a bicycle being a good example of tacit knowledge”. I disagree with this since the skills you acquire when learning to ride a bicycle or swim are apparently stored in your mind and thus constitute tacit knowledge. It only becomes explicit knowledge when you write those skills on a piece of paper in form of information which another one can read and make use of in order to learn how to ride a bicycle or swim thus acquiring this tacit knowledge for him/herself. Second, you’ve said “I think, rather, I know one can transfer the knowledge of riding a bicycle or swimming to another person. It can be shared.” and thus made the assumption that tacit knowledge can’t be shared, well this is not precise since tacit knowledge could definitely be shared and a good example of this is apprentice training programs which is all about transferring and thus sharing skills (i.e tacit knowledge). So, tacit knowledge could be shared but is more difficult to share than explicit knowledge since the former is in people’s minds…..
    i hope this helps…

    20 May 2013, 13:29

  4. Maureen Wandati

    Wow! A good critique of my thoughts. Now, let me first say thanks for the clarification between tacit and explicit knowledge. The best way you have put it is tacit knowledge is that which is in your head and mind, while explicit knowledge is that which you can find in the internet or wherever, a book etc. That tacit knowledge is knowledge and explicit knowledge is information. Simple and clear, I like that. Like I had said earlier, in the book I had read, they said swimming is a good example of tacit knowledge and I still disagree and I can see you agree as well. Since tacit knowledge is more or less considered unshared, I disagreed because in the example of swimming, I can definitely show someone how to swim, and that will be exactly what you have said, transforming tacit to explicit. Thus, I do not think we disagree on that at all. I did not imply it cannot be shared, actually, I implied it can be shared thus the discontentment with that statement.

    That said, you have explained quite well the distinction between the two and at least now I have a better understanding of the two. So yeah, this has helped quite some my friend. Thank you for your critique and in effect, you are sharing your tacit knowledge via blogging. I thank you for that.

    20 May 2013, 20:41

  5. Julio

    Proof is sometimes no more than a lack of imagination in thinking of an alternative.

    20 May 2013, 23:04


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