Explicit vs. Tacit KnowledgeThe University of Malaya publishes lecture notes for some of its courses online. I was interested in seeing what the course on "Information Technology and Knowledge-Based Economy," offered by Ng Boon-Kwee, an associate professor in the Department of Science and Technology Studies, amounted to. Notes for seven of the eight course lectures are online, but only those for the final two lectures dealing with the "Knowledge Based Economy" are not password protected.
The material in the notes for Lectures 7 and 8 is a well-organized presentation of basic concepts data, information, knowledge, etc. I was particularly interested in the summary Boon-Kwee provides of the distinction between explicit and tacit knowledge:
Tacit: Personal, context-specific.
Explicit: Can be codified and explicated.
Tacit: Difficult to formalize, record, encode, or articulate.
Explicit: Can be codified and transmitted in a systematic and formal language.
Tacit: Developed through a process of trial and error encountered in practice.
Explicit: Developed through explication of tacit understanding and interpretation of information.
Tacit: Stored in the heads of people.
Explicit: Stored in documents, databases, Web pages, e-mails, charts, etc.
Tacit: Hard to manage, share, or support with IT.
Explicit: Well supported by existing IT.
Tacit: Needs a rich communication medium.
Explicit: Can be transferred through conventional electronic channels.
Boon-Kwee concludes his lectures by defining the three elements of knowledge management knowledge acquisition, knowledge sharing, and knowledge utilization. I will be looking at knowledge acquisition and knowledge sharing in later posts.