5.6.2 Tacit Knowledge Sharing

5.6.2 Tacit Knowledge Sharing

          Sharing tacit knowledge requires socialization. This can take many different forms. Davenport & Prusak (2000) point out that informal networks which involve the day to day interaction between people within work environments. Unlike the formalized structure of the organization, these networks span functions and hierarchies. They are therefore difficult to identify and monitor. However, the management needs to encourage such networks through providing the means for communication like creating talk rooms where employees can engage in unstructured, unmonitored discussions. Management also tries to provide the means for employees to foster informal networks and "trade" tacit knowledge.

          Management also needs to understand the value of chaos. Chaos refers to the value of unstructured work practices that encourage experimentation and social interaction. Within a more chaotic environment, individuals have the freedom to solve problems creatively. The value of less structured work environments is also well known within innovation management.

          Codification of tacit knowledge is difficult and sometimes outright impossible. There will often be a resulting knowledge loss (Bukowitz & Williams 1999; Davenport & Prusak 2000). Often, it is much more reasonable to simply externalize the sources of tacit knowledge rather than the knowledge itself (Davenport & Prusak 2000). This means that often it is better for experts to externalize what they know rather than how they know it. The main role of KM then becomes making sure that experts can be found so that tacit knowledge can be passed on through practice, mentoring, and networking (socialization), and that the organization supports and encourages the networking that is necessary for these functions to occur.

          To share tacit knowledge requires a culture conducive to this type of sharing. Furthermore, knowledge managers must be used to locate and translate knowledge elements, thus facilitating their integration into other communities. This endeavor is very much about people and managing organizational culture change.