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LINK Research Institute

Tacit Knowledge Learning, Management & Systems

Organisations and research has long recognised the value of employee ‘know-how’ or tacit knowledge. Smith (2001) emphasises that 90% of knowledge in any organisation is embedded in people’s heads. Organisations are concerned about the effects of tacit knowledge loss to organisational memory through restructuring, turnover or ineffective knowledge management processes or organisational practices not facilitative of positive tacit knowledge circulation behaviours. Argote and Ingram (2000) emphasise that the transfer of tacit knowledge is far more difficult than explicit knowledge. However, employees whom possess knowledge of value to the organisation own something more than information stored in repositories and databases (Blair, 2002). Consequently, there is recognition that more comprehensive research on tacit knowledge management needs to be conducted as while much research explores the management of explicit knowledge, limited progress is made on that of tacit knowledge (Insch et al., 2008; Perez & Mitra, 2007). Equally, it is only through converting tacit knowledge to value that organisations obtain the competitive advantages achievable through KM (KPMG, 2000).

Over the course of this project, the research team led by Dr. Claire Gubbins and in conjunction with the University of Limerick and Prof. Eamonn Murphy, will analyse, using qualitative and quantitative methodologies, the tacit knowledge management practices, influencers and challenges in 6-10 manufacturing MNC’s involved with the Irish Centre for Manufacturing Research (www.icmr.ie)- a designated Competence Centre- under which this project is commissioned and funded by Enterprise Ireland and the IDA. The ultimate objective of this analysis is to develop a macro level framework to represent the individual, organisational, social and technological influences on MNC tacit knowledge circulation processes. The study will focus on engineers, technicians, operators and their immediate supervisors and managers. This framework will inform the design, development/improvement and evaluation of a set of TKM improvement interventions and systems in the case companies at organisational, individual, social and technological levels.

For further information please contact Dr. Claire Gubbins (claire.gubbins@dcu.ie)