Knowledge Management: A Study of Effective Management of Tacit Knowledge

  • Chi Nie

Student thesis: Phd


Knowledge is commonly defined as the information, understanding and skills that are gained through education or experience. More broadly, our understanding of knowledge is grounded in epistemology – the philosophical study of the nature, origin, and limits of human knowledge. Studies into knowledge, particularly from an organisational theory perspective, have and continue to generate a rich vein of academic enquiry and scholarship. The extant literature widely conceptualises knowledge as a bifurcation of the ‘tacit’ and ‘explicit’ forms. Explicit forms of knowledge are generally codified, recorded or at least easily stored in a format that is readily retrievable and useful, Tacit, on the other hand, is knowledge that difficult to transfer to others by means of codifying or verbalising. This can include experience, foresight, insight, and intuition. Thus, tacit knowledge is widely regarded to be difficult to manage or embed into organisational routines and standard operating procedures. This thesis presents a grounded theory approach to conceptualising the challenges of knowledge management from a tacit perspective through qualitative analysis of data generated in the context of Chinese not-for-profit organisations. It seeks to present a theoretical contribution in the form of maturity model that enables the determination of factors that may contribute to the successful transfer of tacit knowledge between employees in an organisation. The purpose of the maturity model is to encourage organisations to become more interactive and participative in the execution of knowledge management activities, especially knowledge-sharing activities between employees, as well as factors that aid the adoption of knowledge-sharing activities. The results of data collection and analysis have shown that the following factors are potentially critical for success. The first is the coherence between the core values of the company and personal values amongst employees; they matter to performance management, especially, the efficiency and effectiveness of the completion of work tasks. Secondly, based on the qualitative research, utilising the power of the middle management team when applying tacit knowledge management (TKM) can be helpful for improving the efficiency of knowledge transfer. It means that by using the power of the middle management team, employees can better understand the essentials of the core values when they conduct specific tasks. In addition, adjusted strategies for applying tacit knowledge management can be one of the most crucial considerations when applying TKM. Cultural differences and differences in personal values require alternative methods when preparing to conduct TKM. This study suggests further avenues for study. In this era, each organisation faces the challenge of increased competition and internal high staff turnover. Hence, it is important to undertake further research. In this study we are not focusing on the differences of the impact of different media (newsletters, video meetings, phone calls, Helpdesks) when conducting knowledge transfer throughout an organisation. Additionally, in this study, although we found the differences between knowledge-intensive and non-knowledge-intensive organisations in relation to the willingness to accept new knowledge, we are not actually concentrating on the mechanism behind this finding. Knowledge management has a strong connection with innovation and efficiency in an organisation.
Date of Award31 Dec 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorCallum Kidd (Supervisor) & Jack Wu (Supervisor)

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