Exploring the dichotomies within the tacit knowledge literature: Towards a process of tacit knowing in organizations

Rodney McAdam, Bob Mason, Josephine McCrory

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    122 Citations (Scopus)


    Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to critically examine the definition and conception of tacit knowledge in existing peer reviewed literature and to suggest how research agendas can be established to clarify understanding for praxis. Design/methodology/approach - The methodology involved an in-depth literature review of tacit knowledge as part of the knowledge management discourse. Findings - There is considerable disagreement in the literature over the definition and role of tacit knowledge in management studies and organizations. These polemics are reflected in a lack of systematic research agendas being established. Conversely the more meta level concept of knowledge management has been the subject of an increasing amount of research. However, it is suggested that an improved understanding of tacit knowledge is needed to underpin and further develop the knowledge management discourse. From the literature the concept of tacit knowing is advanced as a means for establishing research agendas and improving understanding in praxis, within the tacit knowledge domain. This approach enables definitional differences to be further probed along with the role and purpose of tacit knowledge within organizations. Practical implications - The paper suggests a number of ways in which tacit knowledge can be developed in organizations at organizational, group and individual levels. Originality/value - The paper shows how the concept of tacit knowing can help in understanding the dichotomies within the tacit knowledge literature and in advancing understanding of the subject.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)43-59
    Number of pages17
    JournalJournal of Knowledge Management
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 2007

    Bibliographical note

    Copyright 2007 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


    • Literature
    • Tacit knowledge


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