2.2.1 Explicit Knowledge

2.2.1 Explicit Knowledge

            One of the key categories of knowledge is known ‘explicit knowledge’. It is sometimes referred to as ‘know-what’ (Brown & Duguid, 1998). It exits in formalized and codified form and found in databases, memos, notes, documents, etc. (Botha et al., 2008). Therefore fairly easy to identify, store, retrieve and handle (Wellman, 2009).

            From an organizational perspective, the explicit knowledge can be disseminated within an organization through documents, drawings, standard operating procedures, manuals of best practice, and the like. From a managerial perspective, the greatest challenge with explicit knowledge is similar to information. It involves ensuring that people have access to what they need; that important knowledge is stored; and that the knowledge is reviewed, updated, or discarded. Many researchers and practitioners from KM community ask for initiating and sustaining organizational processes for generating, articulating, categorizing, and systematically leveraging explicit knowledge.

            Information communication technology is usually seen as playing a central role in facilitating the storage, retrieval and dissemination of explicit knowledge over organization intranets or between organizations via the internet.  One of the key advantages of explicit knowledge stored in information systems is that it is available 24/7 and is free from the limitations of time and space. Also the knowledge of expert converted in explicit form can be available to other individuals who may not have expertise in that knowledge domain. Also, the available explicit knowledge can be discussed, debated, tested, and can be improved.  It also helps organizations to make their current knowledge base more visible which help organizations to see what knowledge they have and what knowledge they do not have. However, to obtain the potential benefits of explicit knowledge a number of organizational challenges have to be overcome. These challenges arise primarily in assuring adequate articulation, evaluation, application, and protection of knowledge assets.

            Contrarily, many theorists regard explicit knowledge as being less important (e.g. Brown & Duguid 1991). For example, Cook & Brown (1999) says, “Explicit knowledge can be used as an aid to help acquire the tacit knowledge, but cannot by itself enable one to ride. The tacit knowledge is necessary in being able to ride, but it does not by itself enable a rider to say which way to turn.” Bukowitz & Williams (1999) considered it simpler in nature as it cannot contain the rich experience based know-how that can generate lasting competitive advantage.  In the next section we will discuss about tacit knowledge which is considered equally important among the knowledge management community.