A new framework for defining, identifying and explicating tacit knowledge : qualitative research using Aspectual Analysis on SMEs

Kimani, AG 2017, A new framework for defining, identifying and explicating tacit knowledge : qualitative research using Aspectual Analysis on SMEs , PhD thesis, University Of Salford.

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Area of Concern: There is a growing awareness that tacit knowledge accounts for a substantial portion of vital knowledge in both individuals and organisations. The advent of knowledge and organisational management frameworks has brought about a realisation that the difficulty of managing tacit knowledge is primarily due to a wide variety of conflicting definitions in both philosophy and scientific theories (Gourlay, 2004). These conflicts in literature are yet to be resolved by current frameworks, particularly those that examine the models of tacit knowledge flow in organisations. This indicates that a gap exists for creating a new foundation for identifying tacit knowledge. For this to be achieved, empirical data has been collated in the form of perceptions of personnel at two SME organisations in Manchester. The research has obtained these perceptions through semi-structured qualitative interviews. These interviews form the necessary data for analysis that has been carried out using the method of aspectual analysis. Aspectual analysis derives from the principles of Herman Dooyeweerd’s theory of modal aspects, and has been the primary form of analysis of the data collected. By utilising these modal aspects, and applying Dooyeweerd’s theory of knowing to the concept of tacit knowing; this research aims to identify different forms of tacit knowledge and their varying degrees of explication. This research may in turn be used to unite the views of tacit knowledge in literature, and propel the current discourse into a more constructive narrative that the researcher hopes will aid greater understanding of the importance of tacit knowledge. It may also be used as a base for the extension of literature in areas where knowledge is paramount such as organisational learning and the creation of frameworks for managing tacit knowledge in both organisational & knowledge management. This issues discussed thus lead to the researcher asking the question: “How can Dooyeweerd’s philosophy be used to analyse the tacit knowledge held by a variety of people of at an SME thus revealing the different types of tacit knowledge and discerning which types can be explicated?” In answering this main research question, the research has achieved three main contributions that can be described as: Theoretical, Practical, and Methodological. Theoretical Contribution: The research performed a review of both philosophical and practical literature on tacit knowledge showing that there is no agreed foundation for defining, identifying or explicating tacit knowledge. In terms of philosophical review of the nature of tacit knowledge, authors such as Yu (2004)’s Wittgenstein examination of Polanyi’s tacit knowing encompasses detailed review of philosophical underpinnings of tacit knowing, but ultimately limited scope of the types of tacit knowing and exploration of their differing levels of explication. This research expands this thinking and shows how these different areas can be articulated. In the case of practical literature, authors such as Gourlay (2002;2004) show how different empirical researchers define tacit knowledge differently, yet do not go further into stating that this are different types of tacit knowledge being discussed. The conflict is illuminated, but the theoretical frameworks for accounting for differences in tacit knowledge views tends to exclude rather than include important observations. This research shows how different views of tacit knowledge can be unified within a singular framework as guided by Dooyeweerd’s modal aspects. Practical Contribution: As Gourlay (2004) notes, different empirical studies have taken multiple interpretations of tacit knowledge in their research, thus resulting in ambiguity on the nature of tacit knowledge in research. Gourlay review shows that two of the main differences in literature concerning the nature of tacit knowledge is whether tacit knowledge is individually or collectively held and whether it can be made explicit. In addressing the first problematic of individually or collectively held tacit knowing, the research in this thesis shows how different types of tacit knowledge are held in a spectrum with some individually held, and others collectively held and also some with both a collective and individual component of knowing. In the second problematic of explication, the research creates a framework that shows how some forms of tacit knowledge can be explicated to varying degrees within the spectrum of different types of tacit knowing while utilising aspectual analysis and the property of inter-aspect reaching out. Methodological Contribution: The research expands on utilising Dooyeweerd’s philosophy to illuminate scientific fields in this case applying the theory of modal aspects in conjunction with the property of inter-aspect reaching out within the modal spheres to reveal the forms of tacit knowledge that exists behind “the making of a statement”, and the tacit knowledge that exists “behind the content of the statement” within an interview setting. This is an expansion of aspectual analysis that is described by authors such as Winfield (2001) & Basden (2008).

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Schools: Schools > Salford Business School > Salford Business School Research Centre
Depositing User: A Kimani
Date Deposited: 19 Jan 2018 13:11
Last Modified: 19 Jan 2018 13:11
URI: http://usir.salford.ac.uk/id/eprint/42814

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