Can Tacit Knowledge Alone Drive Innovation?

Deanna Wong


Tacit knowledge is often described as a crucial component to organizational knowledge creation. However, there are controversies surrounding its sufficiency in generating innovation alone. Many believe that explicit knowledge is often overlooked, yet equally necessary in creating new knowledge. There are several perspectives on this issue, and for the purpose of this paper, these perspectives are grouped into three main streams. The first and second stream believe that tacit knowledge is the core of knowledge creation, while the third stream argues the equal significance of both tacit and explicit knowledge. The third stream also introduces the SECI model to further demonstrate the way both tacit and explicit knowledge can be used to trigger innovation; that is, through the process of knowledge conversion. A case study on the application of the SECI model in a military organization is used to provide evidence that knowledge conversion is highly effective in creating new knowledge. Since both tacit and explicit knowledge are required for this process, both knowledge types are shown to be equally significant to knowledge creation.  

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