Knowledge Transformation

Knowledge and it’s types


Knowledge is a shared collection of principles, facts, skills, and rule. More specifically, organizational knowledge aids decision-making, behavior, and actions, and is primarily developed from the knowledge of individuals within the organization. Firms strive to generate superior knowledge that, if appropriately managed, results in superior performance.  Thus, knowledge is, arguably, the single most important source of core competence.

Davenport and Prusak (1998) define the knowledge as follows:

“Knowledge is a fluid mix of framed experience, values, contextual information, expert insight that provides a framework for evaluating and incorporating new experiences and information. It originates and is applied in the minds of knowers. In organizations, it often becomes embedded not only in documents or repositories but also in organizational routines, processes, practices, and norms.”

As like the data is transformed into information, information is transformed into knowledge through a set of activities that increases its value. There are four such activities that transform information into the knowledge. Firstly, one may Compare information with previous information, primarily to determine what has changed in a particular situation. Secondly, one may determine the Consequences or Repercussions of this information on decisions. Thirdly, one may consider how this information Connects or Correlates to other information. Finally, through Conversation one may conclude what people think about the information (Davenport and Prusak 1998).

A very interesting point here to note is that unlike information interpretation (can happen mainly with technological solutions), Knowledge transformation can happen mainly with human intervention. Though the computers support the transformation, the key transformation can happen with the human solutions only. Knowledge is now viewed as a capital asset of economic value, a new strategic resource in productivity enhancement and a stability factor in an unstable and dynamic competitive environment.

Types of Knowledge:

Ikujiro Nonaka (1995) believes there are two types of Knowledge: explicit or implicit.

1. Explicit Knowledge:

This is tangible, is clearly stated in the form of numbers, words, and symbols consisting of details which can be recorded and stored. This knowledge may be stored in the form of documents, pictures, graphs, etc.; Explicit knowledge can be codified, collected, stored, and disseminated. It is not bound to a person and has primarily the character of data.

2. Tacit Knowledge:

Implicit or tacit knowledge is often unstated, based on individual experience and therefore difficult to record and store (Demarest 1997). Tacit knowledge is highly personal and hard to formalize, making it difficult to communicate and to share with others. Subjective insights, intuitions, and hunches all fall into this category of knowledge. Furthermore, tacit knowledge is deeply rooted in an individual’s action and experience, as well as in the ideals, values, or emotions he or she embraces (Nonaka and Takeuchi 1995). Consequently, it is not possible to separate, store, and distribute the whole knowledge of somebody (Davenport and Donald 1999; Polanyi 1966). Once valuable tacit knowledge is identified, firms must transfer and replicate it to increase the scale and meet the demand for the scarce resource (Tsai 2001). If the tacit knowledge is embedded in firm-specific experiences and routines, it will undoubtedly be much more readily available within the firm than to those outside the firm. Thus, tacitness alone is insufficient to predict the strategic impact of a knowledge base regarding sustainability.

Knowledge Transformation:

The transformation of the explicit and tacit knowledge is given in the form of a spiral in Figure 1.

Tacit to Tacit (Socialization): Socialization involves the transmission of tacit knowledge between individuals as when a new employee learns through observing and working with a skilled worker (e.g., on-the-job training or apprenticeship systems).

Explicit to Explicit (Combination): Combination involves the transmission of explicit knowledge between individuals and is perhaps best illustrated by the activities that constitute formal education (i.e., teaching a class). Equally common is the creation of new knowledge by combining previously documented explicit knowledge.
Knowledge Transformation
Figure 1 Knowledge Transformation spiral based on (Nonaka and
Takeuchi 1995)

Original Reference Article:
  • Raja, C. S. (2008). Research on the knowledge management practices and its benefits in south indian it organizations.

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