Re: Emergent Learning LO1963

Richard Karash (
Thu, 6 Jul 1995 18:01:28 -0400 (EDT)

Replying to LO1962 --

Mike McMaster wrote in LO1944
>Tacit (implicit) knowledge cannot be converted into explicit

And, on Thu, 6 Jul 1995, chun wei choo wrote in LO1962:

> This seems to run counter to the book I have been reading by Nonaka and
> Takeuchi, "The Knowledge Creating Company" (Oxford Univ Press, 1995). N &
> T suggest that the fundamental reason for the success of Japanese
> companies is their ability to convert tacit knowledge to explicit
> knowledge and then back again. They describe the process as a dynamic
> knowledge conversion cycle. In fact they insist that knowledge while it
> remains personal or tacit, is of limited leverage to the organization.
> Only after it is "externalized" into explicit knowledge and "combined"
> with other explicit knowledge would the organization derive maximum
> benefit. They imply that Japanese and other knowledge-creating companies
> "frequently" and continually engage in the knowledge conversion cycle.
> Nonaka has presented this argument (or parts thereof) a few times before
> in places like the Harvard Business Review, Organization Science, Sloan
> Mgm Review, etc.

I, too have been fascinated by this book.

I've been thinking about the conversion processes they propose. Talking
with others has produced confusion about what explicit knowledge is and
how it relates to tacit. I found it helpful to think of explicit
knowledge as *incomplete* -- how to do it may be in the manual, but you
don't know how to do it from the words, only by applying the words and
turning it into your own personal tacit knowledge.

Then, when we turn tacit into explicit, we've not conveying the whole
thing. Thus, I agree with Mike McMaster (earlier in their thread) that
you can't ever *really* turn tacit into explicit.

But, by making a lot of it explicit and communicable, then you enable
others to use it as a starter (or helper) to get their own tacit knowledge.

         Richard Karash ("Rick") |  <>
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