Toward a Better Understanding of Tacit Knowledge in Organizations: Taking Stock and Moving Forward
SourceAcademy of Management Annals
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Tacit knowledge is the knowledge that we draw on in use, but is difficult to have consciousness of, or to express in language. The proliferation in the use of tacit knowledge in management research has generated a diversity of understandings that has reduced the clarity of the concept. In this review, our main goal was to contribute to an integrative theorizing of tacit knowledge. In particular, we aim to grasp the different understandings of tacit knowledge, trace them to the onto-epistemological assumptions researchers make concerning the nature of knowledge and action, and suggest a framework that enables researchers to get a coherent understanding of the diverse literature. We identify three perspectives on tacit knowledge: the conversion, interactional, and practice perspectives. We describe each perspective, trace its development to particular ontological and epistemological commitments, and discuss commonalities and differences. Furthermore, we reflect on methodological issues and suggest possibilities for further research, including the relationship between artificial intelligence and tacit knowledge.