The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary






Tacit knowledge

The concept of tacit knowing comes from scientist and philosopher Michael Polanyi.

By definition, tacit knowledge is not easily shared. One of Polanyi's famous aphorisms is: "We know much more than we can tell." Tacit knowledge consists often of habits and culture that we do not recognize in ourselves.

Friedrich Hayek attributed the birth of civilization to private property in his book The Fatal Conceit , which he saw as the basic necessity to create price signals. According to him, price signals are the only possible way to let each economic decision maker communicate tacit dispersed knowledge to each other, in order to solve the economic calculation problem.

There are many implications for organizational learning and knowledge management, including:

  • The difficulty inherent in tacit knowledge transfer is that subject matter experts and key knowledge holders may not be aware--hence, unable--to articulate, communicate and describe what they know. Thus, tacit knowledge can be a sustainable competitive advantage.
  • Tacit knowledge is embedded in group and organizational relationships, core values, assumptions and beliefs. It is hard to identify, locate, quantify, map or value.

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Last updated: 05-21-2005 22:18:39
Last updated: 05-13-2005 07:56:04