Knowledges in Organization

Two kinds of knowledge in an organization are tacit and explicit knowledge. These terminologies were introduced by Nonaka (1994). Explicit knowledge (EK) is a knowledge that can be transfered formally using systematic language. For example, knowledge in a book or a document (Conklin, 1996 in Hildreth and Kimble, 2002). Otherwise, tacit knowledge (TK) is difficult to transfered and touched. TK is root for individual action and commitment in centain context. For example, team work activities, professional, craftman, etc.

Some terminologies can be founded for these kinds of knowledge. They are (in Hildreth and Kimble, 2002):

  1. Explicit knowledge: formal knowledge (Conklin, 1996), know-what (Brown and Duguid, 1998), hard knowledge (Hildreth and Kimble, 2002).
  2. Tacit knowledge: informal knowledge (Conklin, 1996), know-how (Brown and Duguid, 1998), soft knowledge (Hildreth and Kimble, 2002).

Some scholars give a strict definiton for TK and EK. For example Coklin in Hildreth and Kimble (2002). On the other hand, some scholars believe that TK and EK are in a continous spectrum. On one extreme point is TC, and on the other one is EK. TK is a subjective experience and generated “here and now”; otherwise, TK is an objective one and generated “then and there”. Most of knowledges are between these extreme points (Leonard and Sensiper, 1998 in Hilderth, 2002). Meanwhile, Nonaka (1994) state that EK and TK are completing each other, so sometimes will be found EK in TK creating process. Scholars are limited discussing of EK because this knowledge can be found physically, transmittalbe, storage and retrieve easily.

TK consists of two elements: technical and cognitif. Technical dimension consists of skill, know-how, and expertise which is come from experience and repeatedly using. Meanwhile, cognitive element (mental model) is an element where people create an analogy about something in their mind. This element comprises some one’s schemata, mental models, belief, and perception (Nonaka, 1994).

According Howells (1996), TK can be generated from inside or outside organization. From inside organization, by determining every individual’s TK in organization, and the necessary effort to support every individual learning in order that increase “know-how” competence. From outside, by consulting with an expert, networking with other organizations, recruiting employee whose has required education or certain experience, and forth.

There is another kind of knowledge in organization. It is implicit knowledge (IK). Some scholars states that this knowledge is between EK and TK. According to Wilson (2002), IK can be expressed. He also stated that TK which defined by Nonaka, actually is the IK. IK is a knowledge which its articulated process is unperfect. IK is a TK that can be converted to EK (Newman, 2000). The process of making a cup of coffee is a good example to explain this knowledge. There are some sub-process in it: choicing the coffee seeds, how to use the coffe mechine, coffee type, number of water, and forth. There is addition explaination for all of its. For example, the expert will explain how to choose the best coffee seeds. This explaination is IK.

As conclusion, there are three kinds of knowledge in organization. They are tacit, implicit and explicit knowledge. But, I prefer to divide it into tacit and tacit knowledge because knowledge is a spectrum where there always will be implicit knowledge in both of its.


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