Advantages and Disadvantages of Tacit Knowledge

Keywords: advantages of tacit knowledge, merits demerits tacit

The research work submitted here gives an idea about how to manage knowledge creation and how those methods used in knowledge management. Knowledge work in an organization and the key aspects tacit and explicit knowledge clearly explained. This paper gives explanation about tacit knowledge, how it is transformed into explicit knowledge among individuals, organization and uses of it, also explains about explicit knowledge working in an organization and what are the uses of it. How new knowledge created based on tacit and explicit knowledge in an organization. Knowledge creation is the main issue in any organization, this paper explains how knowledge creation made with tacit and explicit and how they applied, help organization according to the situation. What type of relation and communication should be maintained between the individuals or staff and also explains what are the key factors to implement knowledge management in an organization to get the desired outputs, results and success.


Knowledge management play vital role in present competitive world. Knowledge is the source for any company or organization. It is stored mainly in human brains. Knowledge is a level which is higher than the information. Many humans agree that knowledge is not personal. Knowledge is mainly available in two forms tacit knowledge and explicit knowledge. Tacit knowledge is a knowledge which cannot be articulated and not available in the form of data, document. It is highly personal and need some experts to transfer information for tacit to another form of knowledge. It needs face to face communication to transfer knowledge. Second type of knowledge is explicit knowledge. It is quite opposite to tacit. Explicit knowledge can be articulated easily and available in the form of data, document and manuals etc. explicit knowledge does not required experts to transfer information. Every individual can get the required information at any time.

Knowledge management is a work environment in which all information and knowledge updated, connected and distributed among individuals of an organization. It is also known as competitive advantage improvement. Knowledge management varies from organization to organization, it involves following factors mainly

  • Creating new knowledge
  • Using knowledge for decision making
  • Processing knowledge
  • Transferring existing knowledge into many forms.

Knowledge creation is very important in every organization, this paper clearly explains about knowledge creation in literature review. Tacit and explicit knowledge play main role for the knowledge creation. It exists mainly in four forms socialization, externalization, combination, internalization. Depending on the requirement of tacit and explicit knowledge, knowledge creation is made in the organization.


Tacit knowledge is a knowledge which cannot be articulated, not expressed in words. This knowledge will not be shown in document and it cannot be said by words. Tacit knowledge word came with Michael Polanyi (1891-1976), he was initially Hungarian medical scientist, his first interest was in physical chemistry and later he turned into philosophy. According to him knowledge is public and also very great extent personal, the basic fundamental point to tacit knowledge is explicit knowledge because tacit knowledge information can be known by learning the explicit knowledge and by doing that.

According to Pan and Scarbrough (1999 p362) “Tacit knowledge is not available as a text. . . .It involves intangible factors embedded in personal beliefs, experiences, and values”.

Main problem for tacit knowledge is that, it is not articulated in words. Tacit knowledge will collect the things that we know how to do but do not know how to explain to do that even by symbols. The person having tacit knowledge is very difficult to communicate with the others even by the expressions also. Tacit knowledge depends on some factors to share with others. Action speaks more than words so showing is very easier than telling to transfer tacit knowledge but to do so this one must need to be experienced and professional about that situation. Tacit knowledge is referred to as ‘know how’. Once tacit knowledge is transformed to other person it will create a new knowledge, this new one can be tacit knowledge or explicit knowledge and it will depend on other person who is receiving.

Example for tacit knowledge is ‘riding a bike’ even if anyone tells about it in a perfect way, telling will not be implemented in same way. It need some practice to do it. So practice is also plays an important role while implementing tacit knowledge. More examples for this is how to catch a ball, mark a line, tie a knot etc…



Explicit knowledge is contrast to tacit knowledge and the name itself says that knowledge something explicit. It can be described as well articulated individually and easily expressible knowledge. This can be expressed in words and verbalized easily in numbers also. Information of this can be shared in the form of data and this type of knowledge can be transferred from one person to another person. Explicit knowledge communicated in the form of hard data or documentation, for this no need of expert person to transform and no need of experience. Explicit knowledge can be conveyed in the form of articles, seminars, books and video presentations easily. Explicit knowledge and information have almost same meaning. In other way explicit knowledge can be regarded as implicit knowledge when expressed turned into information.

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Implicit knowledge is a middle level knowledge to both tacit knowledge and explicit knowledge. There can be a type of knowledge which is tacit but it can be converted into explicit knowledge. Many organizations will not consider implicit knowledge because organizations need expert level knowledge and one more reason is that implicit knowledge need to be converted into explicit knowledge for this it need expert guide who know about situation. The main goal of organization is to find how much tacit knowledge is present in that data and try to transfer it to explicit knowledge.


Knowledge creation is possible way to learn someone. There are mainly two types of knowledge, tacit knowledge and explicit knowledge. Combination of this individual knowledge with other in an organization will create a new knowledge to increase organizational knowledge. The main goal of knowledge creation is to develop business with customers in a well educated way. The following diagrams explains clearly about knowledge creation

Knowledge creation in knowledge management is mainly divided into four types depending on the combinations of tacit and explicit knowledge, they are

Socialization — Tacit to Tacit

Externalization — Tacit to Explicit

Combination — Explicit to Explicit

Internalization — Explicit to Tacit.


Tacit to tacit knowledge is called as socialization. Socialization means sharing knowledge between individuals. This can be done by people coming together and sharing their personal tacit knowledge with other individuals by spending time living in same environment. Acquiring knowledge from other is not an easy task it involves large support of interaction between the customers and in an organization, in short fundamental part to transfer tacit knowledge in sharing with self-transcendence. In some cases tacit knowledge only shared if one becomes to be free to enlarge tacit information. Acquiring knowledge can be done by walking inside the company and capturing tacit knowledge of other person or transferring one’s ideas inside the organization, this involve a great effort to acquire. Direct interaction sharing plays a vital role for this socialization in any organization.


This type of knowledge creation is known as externalization. As name says it need to be externalized to transfer information from tacit knowledge to explicit knowledge. It can be done mainly by expression. So showing tacit knowledge rather than doing, by this process tacit knowledge can be easily transferred and understand by others and tacit knowledge will be converted into explicit knowledge

Externalization can be said as difference between inner and outer boundaries of one’s self. In this externalization individuals shares knowledge with group and become one in group. Externalization needs two main key factors, they are

  • Articulation of tacit knowledge
  • Translating the tacit knowledge of experts
  • So externalization needs some exports to translate tacit knowledge into explicit knowledge


It is called as combination. It represents transferring some explicit information into more sets of explicit knowledge. Main issues in this are communication, diffusion process and systemization of knowledge. Transferring explicit knowledge into explicit knowledge involves three main steps. First capturing and integrating new explicit knowledge, in this collecting information from the company whether information may be inside or outside the organization. Next step is combining such collected information or data together as in the form of single data, next step is dissemination of explicit knowledge, and this can be done by transferring the knowledge directly or by arranging meetings. So by following these steps explicit knowledge will be converted into more explicit knowledge sets and new knowledge will be created and spread among the organizational members. Editing of collected explicit knowledge will be used as a more usable knowledge.


Explicit knowledge to tacit knowledge conversion is called as internalization. This is a type of knowledge creation in which explicit knowledge converted into organization’s tacit knowledge and for this one must find knowledge relevant to one’s self. Internalization follows two steps to achieve it. First is explicit knowledge should be embodied in the form of action and next step is actualization of explicit knowledge tactics and strategic.

For example trainers in an organization face some situations to explain organizations members in such case first trainers should understand the explicit knowledge of that situation and knowledge will converted into tacit knowledge. So trainers should have to learn knowledge and converts the explicit knowledge into his tacit knowledge first.


In knowledge creation Ba model also have an important concept based on four characteristics of ba, as shown in below diagram

As shown in above diagram clear explained about knowledge creation in Ba phases by using four specific characteristics, they are

  • Originating Ba
  • Interaction Ba
  • Cyber Ba
  • Exercising Ba

Organization Ba:

This phase involves sharing of knowledge with emotions, experience by the individuals in an organization. This can be represented as socialization. Face to face interactions with experience place a vital role between individuals. The key factor to transfer tacit knowledge is experience in any organization.

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Interacting Ba:

Interaction Ba characteristic deals with tacit knowledge transformation into explicit knowledge. This phase represents externalization. Expert level communication, personal skills and dialogue are key roles in this phase of Ba for knowledge transformation into explicit. Selecting people with some specialized knowledge will be done to do so in an organization.

Cyber Ba:

Cyber Ba represents combination phase and in this characteristic interaction plays a vital role. In this explicit knowledge combines with the explicit information and creates a new explicit knowledge. Knowledge which is combined will be utilized in an organization in the form of document or database.

Exercising Ba:

In this phase explicit knowledge converted into tacit knowledge. This phase is also called as internalization. Trainers in an organization face situations like continue exercises to train people. In such situations trainers feel stress and that will turns to learn explicit knowledge into tacit knowledge for them.

Different characteristics of Ba phase show a successful knowledge creation in an organization. Knowledge, which is created with-in ba will turn into tacit and process will go on in a cyclic way. So in this way initially tacit knowledge turns into explicit knowledge and then turns into tacit knowledge again.



Knowledge is not visible. It tie-up with customers and relationship with customer. Software industries depend on resources and for this knowledge management is required. Knowledge management assigns right to the right persons. In a survey it is found that

An average organization stores 26 percent of knowledge in the form of papers, 20 percent in digital way and 42 percent of knowledge management stored in employee’s heads. So incase if any damage occur and if any resource lost, I such case human recourses of knowledge play main role to get back information.


Knowledge management differs from one organization to other in practice.

According to M D Agarwal “A knowledge management practices that encompasses end to end processes owned by a department can go a long way towards boosting productivity”.

In practice knowledge management is a highly effected part to capture knowledge between different skill sets. In India as services of organization has huge number of software professional. So employees input information extremely responsible for organizational growth in practice. Knowledge management practice need some key factors to achieve and the factor issues are listed below

Knowledge: In this factor first searching will done for vital knowledge, next process will be done how to use it in an organization.

Human and organization factors: human roles and personal skills will help in this view and organizational requirements to develop knowledge sharing between members.

Learning and improvement: in this point individuals have to learn new things in the organization and try to improve in better way to achieve good results.

Key processes: business improvement way process by using knowledge process should be followed.

Tools and techniques: tools are major techniques to know situations in a better understandable way to the knowledge management users.

Examples and cases: Practice experiences give more clear explanation in organization and cases to learn from them.

Learning and improvement: learning skills need to be known in organization to get own experience.


Experience of the people working for the company:

Human cannot take advantage of information unless it is connected to any software as an information resource. People having expert level experience in a company will play an important role for the organization because they can transfer the information very easily as they have experience how to deal with the situation. So they can communicate easily face to face with any staff of the company and easily transfer the information even if there is any tacit information is present. Problem solving situations can be easily faced by the experience people. Learning skills of the individuals will be developed in multi tasking and multi-faceted.

Employee’s commitment and goals of the company:

Company having proper goals achieve good results. The main goals of any company would be money, travel, promotion etc. Most important commitment factor in any company is motivation. Buchannan defines motivation as an “internal psychological process which starts, directs, and supports goal directed behaviour. In many engineering projects there will be a question often occurs is how to get people interested in project. So the answer is diffidently motivation. Motivation will keep people interest towards goal in any company to avoid difficulties. Commitment of the individual staff members turns the people to work hard to achieve desired goals in any company. So by the above discussion it can be conformed that commitment of individual team members and goals leads to technology success and to get the required knowledge.

Interaction between people working in the company:

Tacit knowledge must need to be interacting with the other people for knowledge conversation in a company. Interaction between team members should be clear and face to face. One must able to interact with any staff in the company. Every individual is responsible for the company and each one is working for company in different way, so there should be clear communication with each other to communicate. So key point in this interaction between people working in the company is face to face interaction to transfer tacit information.

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Knowledge management information varies from one company to other company and one country to other country. It will change as per the requirement in any organization as well as place.

Here some points that are used while implementing knowledge management

Planning is initial thing in any organization to acquire knowledge management.

Organization must have capability to take risk,

Knowledge management users should have proper support and good communication with management or higher authority.

If any problem occurs at any stage, organization should apply some easier ways to solve the problem.

Once the knowledge management is implemented, it needs to be checked regularly to know whether the plan is working or not.

Most importantly knowledge management should have determination and storing knowledge capacity of knowledge

Initially organization may not get the results as quickly as expected. It may take some time to return knowledge management investment.

Organization should have to keep in mind about predefined outputs and proper updates before knowledge management use.


Knowledge management mainly depends on three concepts

  1. Experience
  2. Commitment
  3. Interaction

Experience: It describes the quality and the quantity of the knowledge management and experience is a largely using method to transfer information in a better understanding way. People having experience about the knowledge can easily communicate with others. So this is mainly considered with memory system.

Commitment: In any organization commitment is crucial part for the knowledge management. Team members of organization have to take commitment to achieve the goals which is needed, and staff has to take task to do well with commitment. So this issue mainly belongs to motivational part.

Interaction: interaction between the people is the responsible for knowledge transformation in an organization or company, if the interaction is good between team members then automatically information will be transferred which is indirectly works as a part of knowledge improvement. So this issue is a part of interaction system.

Example: let us consider a company which is having required level of experience, communication between team members is face to face and it is good but commitment of staff and goals are neither in sufficient way nor effective. So as a result of company will not produce efficient outcomes.

So knowledge management within technology firm should have above three experience, commitment and interaction concepts. If anything misses for any company then the desired result will not be produced.


Human involvement factors play a vital role in tacit knowledge such as

Personal interaction: person has to meet face to face for knowledge sharing.

Good management leader as a role model for organization to follow by members.

Good human encouragement by the people in an organization. Motivation rewards and hopes.

Relation should be good between sender and receiver when knowledge is in sharing. Such as trust and openness.


Advantages: it is very important in knowledge management because overall information and benefits come from tacit knowledge only. Tacit knowledge tends to transfer knowledge directly from one person to another, later knowledge play vital role. Tacit knowledge returns great investment and it increases workplace efficiency. Tacit knowledge is canter of the research in knowledge management. In a company usage of tacit knowledge is the main source compare to competitive knowledge. Tacit knowledge is not much expensive and it is easy and it leads to employee satisfaction and motivation. Information is secured in an organization.

Disadvantages: the main disadvantage in tacit knowledge is knowledge transformation. Knowledge will remains in tacit stage in knowledge is not transformed. To transform tacit knowledge need some experience and skillful person. Tacit information may remain in tacit stage if individuals not share the information. Face to face interaction shares the information only with one person at a time and other individuals need some time to gather tacit information. And one of the most disadvantages is that once tacit knowledge leaves it may convert into tacit again, in organization it will cause a huge damage. Tacit knowledge cannot be found in the form of document.


Advantages: One of the main advantages in explicit knowledge is that, it can be found in the form of document or data and it can be used in an easy way. Information can be transferred quickly without any time waiting process. Knowledge transfer is made easy one to other in an organization. Information can be articulated in an organization systematically. Knowledge can be improved in further way explicit for learning.

Disadvantages: the main disadvantage in explicit knowledge is information may not secure, as the information passes to many people. Information should remain within the boundaries. Many organizations need some expert to articulate knowledge, every individual may not have required skill to articulate in the organization. Documentations or database should be maintained securely because explicit knowledge may be codified as it is also available in documentation.

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