CEC Faculty Articles

Title

How Does Tacit Knowledge Proliferate? An Episode-Based Perspective

Document Type

Article

Date

12-2006

Publication Title

Organization Studies

ISSN or ISBN

0170-8406

Volume

27

Issue

12

First Page

1821

Last Page

1841

Description

Evidence has accrued that tacit knowledge is personal and ineffable as proposed by Polanyi (1958). Proponents of this view do not explain the mechanism responsible for the proliferation of tacit knowledge. This paper introduces a cognitive perspective to the process of tacit knowledge proliferation while maintaining that tacit knowledge is personal, ineffable and context-specific. Three propositions are discussed: tacit knowledge is episodic, thus personal, context-specific and acquired through experience; experience results from the construction or relating of episodes, but does not necessarily result in specifically ‘intended’ tacit knowledge; and the proliferation of tacit knowledge within an organization is the result of a constructive and collaborative process. The crux of this perspective has three assumptions: constructing and relating of tacit knowledge is episodic, constructing new episodes is obligatory upon attention, and relating to past episodes is obligatory upon attention.

DOI

10.1177/0170840606067666

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