What is Tacit Knowledge?

Meaning of Tacit Knowledge

Tacit knowledge can be understood as knowledge that comes from the experience of the individual. It is obtained by internal processes of the individual by being subjected to situations that provide unprecedented experiences, these experiences being assimilated through knowledge of a tacit nature that the individual already carries with them.

A refinement in the concept of tacit knowledge indicates, therefore, that it can be conceived as personal and contextual knowledge that, because it is linked to the individual’s experience, makes it difficult to formalize and express it through language.

The idea of ​​the existence of knowledge from experience was proposed by the philosopher Michael Polanyi and validated in 1966 through his work The Tacit Dimension, in which he elaborated the structure of tacit knowledge, describing in detail how the individual acquire and use knowledge.

By stating that “We can know more than we can say”, Polanyi establishes the fundamental principle of tacit knowledge, considering that all knowledge implies the skilful action of the subject and using his famous example of the act of learning to ride a bicycle to justify his arguments. .

According to him, one learns to ride a bicycle without really knowing how it is possible to do it, because the physics involved in the act of riding a bicycle is complex and yet we do not use this specific knowledge when doing this activity.

Therefore, what is characterized as tacit refers to the internalization of a skill that allows the performance of a certain task or activity.

The “how” we know more than we can say translates into skills that we acquire without being able to explain or even understand it.

In this way, as Polanyi postulates, all knowledge starts from a tacit coefficient that cannot be explained or guided by rules that can be carried out, since it is built as a result of the combination of information, experiences, contexts, interpretations and reflections.

However, knowledge involves multiple aspects and is configured as a tangle of meanings that we build throughout life, but, contrary to what is called explicit knowledge, tacit knowledge involves a personal, complex, developed and internalized dimension. by the individual over time.

However, when highlighting the communicative complexity of the human being, it is observed that tacit knowledge and explicit knowledge are inseparable and complement each other, since if on the one hand the tacit dimension of knowledge is dismantled and remains dormant if not stimulated, on the other On the other hand, its explicit dimension when isolated from tacit understandings loses its meaning.

Therefore, the constitution of knowledge, regardless of its dimensions, presupposes social interaction and the experiences of the subject in the search for balance between its tacit and explicit dimensions in an endless construction process.

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