Explicit Knowledge: Definition & In-Depth Explanation

“All knowledge that the world has ever received comes from the mind. Books are infinite and time is short. The secret of knowledge is to take what is essential and try to live up to it.”- Swami Vivekananda.


In knowledge management, explicit knowledge is a type of knowledge that can be articulated, documented, and shared efficiently within a company. To get more clarity, continue reading.


Introduction to Knowledge Management

Often when implementing a knowledge management strategy, it feels confusing regarding where to start. Don’t fret, we have got you covered. Explicit, implicit, and tacit are different types of knowledge that one needs to have expertise in. 

But what is the difference between these terminologies? It is a question that this blog will attempt to answer for its readers. We will focus specifically on the difference between implicit and explicit knowledge. 

That’s not all. You will gain a complete understanding of explicit knowledge and the best practices to capture, store, and transfer knowledge within the organization.  


What is Explicit Knowledge?

Explicit Knowledge

Knowledge usually has different forms, depending on the business type.

The knowledge that can get easily articulated, codified, stored, and accessed is Explicit Knowledge. It is also known as expressive knowledge.

Such knowledge can be smoothly transmitted to other customers or employees and stored efficiently in certain media. For example, explicit knowledge is tangible, robust, and recorded in multiple types like documents and databases.

Consider the market research report scenario. It includes essential information like recent trends, project definitions, necessary documents, customer roles & behaviors, analytic reports, and additional analysis and research reports. Here are examples of Explicit Knowledge: Documented work, Procedures, and Policies.

What benefits does the organization grab by capturing and transferring explicit knowledge?

  • Enhances decision-making capabilities
  • Minimizing the duplication efforts
  • Security against knowledge loss
  • Creating robust processes and operations
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Examples of Explicit Knowledge

Explicit knowledge exists in our real-life scenario as it comes in encyclopedias and textbooks. Such knowledge comes in various forms like procedure manuals, documents, contents, procedures, audio-visuals, how-to videos, and other things that make an effective knowledge management system.

Engineering works and product design are examples of such knowledge that works explicitly based on human skills, customers’ motivations, and external expertise. Some of the best instances are as below:

  • A sales team with a knowledge-sharing platform.
  • Formal customer suggestions and complaints
  • Documented context work
  • Application or project definitions
  • Content creation policy
  • Job operating process
  • Database of potential customer contact
  • Code of conducts for the organization

Implicit Knowledge: Opposite of Explicit Knowledge

Tacit knowledge works precisely opposite to explicit. The knowledge that humans use like personal experience and jobs is implicit.

Learning and expertise usually come from people’s minds—intelligence and experience, more challenging to extract and codify.

‘Tacit and implicit knowledge’ are the same words used by the organization. ‘Implicit’ is a type of knowledge that is usually implied in a statement but is not explicitly said. The term could refer to ideas that are connected with it in socially understandable manners.

Implicit knowledge has more complexities in transferring information in a written format like documents or through verbal methods.

A piece of explicit knowledge can be easily written down and understood by a reader. In contrast, riding a bicycle, playing a musical instrument, walking, speaking ability, and others that do not require any specific documentation are implicit knowledge.


Difference Between Explicit and Implicit Knowledge

Explicit Knowledge Implicit Knowledge
Easy for articulating, writing, and sharing Implicit knowledge is the practical application of explicit knowledge
Explicit knowledge is the most basic form of knowledge Implicit Knowledge is gained without any awareness that learning is occurring
Explicit knowledge is the most basic form of knowledge Implicit Knowledge is gained without any awareness that learning is occurring
Best example: knowledge management platform Best example: individuals following best practices and skills to perform their jobs
Externalized Internalized
Context independent Dynamically created
Explicit – Easy to write down or capture Implicit – Difficult to write down or capture

In simple words, we can say that tacit knowledge is explicit knowledge  that has not gotten documented yet. 

For codification purposes, explicit can be easily codified, just like writing code or performing word expressions. At the same time, implicit is not easy to understand, so there exists no chance to communicate, interpret, or use such information.

Such information is easily transferable as one needs to know a particular topic to transfer the knowledge. On the other hand, tacit knowledge does not support knowledge-sharing. It cannot get transferred from one person to another irrespective of the specific information that exists in the organization.

Difference Between Explicit and Implicit Knowledge

How does the transfer effectively take place to gain a competitive advantage?

  • Face-to-face customer interactions
  • Apprenticeship
  • Mutual trust between the two

To know more about the best knowledge-sharing methods, we suggest checking out CloudTutorial’s blog on top knowledge-sharing methods for further reading.

Moreover, using logical deduction and practical experience, the company can quickly gain explicit knowledge. In implicit knowledge, an individual must have an expert company knowledge of a specific area. It gets acquired using in-depth analysis, research, and user experience.

The company can smoothly record such information and store it in physical formats like books, manuals, pdf, files, and other readable formats. The tacit knowledge is fast and presumed.

It is usually separated, whose collection process is quite complicated. So, perfect participation and cooperation are a must need for enhancing business performance.

To compare tacit and explicit knowledge, it is essential that you first understand how these two types take advantage of each other.

Implementing this new knowledge typically starts on a personal basis. An intuitive sense of market trends usually helps the manager to create valuable new products. 


How to Transfer Knowledge One Form to Another

  1. Tacit-to-Tacit

    This knowledge sharing involves transferring Tacit Knowledge to an individual or group that retains it as Tacit.

    When knowledge communities meet, and the common interests get together, they informally exchange information quickly.

    Ex: Telephonic conversation, public meetings, group discussions, opinion polls, etc.

  2. Tacit-to-Explicit

    When an individual converts Tacit-to-Explicit, it gets referred to as Externalization. In simple words, it means that it makes internal & implicit knowledge as external & explicit.

    Such conversion is possible just by formally codifying and expressing such knowledge in terminologies associated with Explicit.

    Ex: Annual reports, rating & reviews, technical reviews, journals, and articles.

  3. Explicit-to-Tacit

    It is also known by the name “internalization” and takes place through learning and training. Explicitly creates a new Tacit Knowledge.

    Ex: Reading articles, watching television, learning through textbooks, etc.

  4. Explicit-to-Explicit

    The process of creating new knowledge from the existing one is Explicit-to-Explicit. It usually works by integrating the information using statistical techniques and pattern detection.

    Information that resides in media such as meetings, telephonic conversations, and networks is combined and exchanged through this process.

    Ex: Digitized forms of documents and textbooks, software applications and tools, etc.

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FAQs

Generally, there are four knowledge types, according to Krathwohl. They are:

  • Factual: It allows exposure, repetition, and commitment to memory for the organizations.
  • Conceptual: It deals with the facts that can get organized in a meaningful manner for your business growth.
  • Procedural: It follows the basic principle of subject-specific skills, techniques, and methods to implement the knowledge.
  • Metacognitive: It deals explicitly with strategic knowledge, contextual knowledge, and even self-knowledge.
A knowledge specifically gained through incidental tasks and activities can implicitly say without any awareness related to learning. Some of the common examples include how to run, swim, and talk. It is challenging for an individual to express this knowledge through writing and, as such, resides in their mind.

There is a long list of examples of how you can express tacit knowledge. Some of the best ones are:

  • Facial recognition
  • Notion of language
  • Content
  • Document flow
  • Bessemer steel process

Usually, there are three most common ways that organizations use such knowledge to transfer and retain. They are:

  • Documentation
  • Interviews
  • Debriefings

Each section includes detailed implications for action when applying these solutions for knowledge transfer and retention and makes reliable use of the knowledge management system.


Conclusion

The documentation and optimization of your company’s explicit knowledge are challenging. But if applied correctly using a knowledge management platform like CloudTutorial, the company gets the opportunity to harness the complete wisdom of their knowledge base. It will intensify the growth of their business.

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