Publishers note (FSG): A very useful study. In many organisations in Africa, much of the knowledge is tacit as opposed to explicit. How to deploy tacit knowledge is the purpose of this paper below.
Purpose – This paper aims to clarify the relationship between explicit and tacit knowledge in specific organizational environments. We explore processes and strategies currently being deployed as best practices in the military to see what we can learn from them and to improve the use of knowledge assets in large-scale organizations in high-velocity and/or turbulent environments.
Design/methodology/approach – The paper explores the uses of tacit and explicit knowledge in high velocity/turbulent environments–using examples from the public sector and the private sector. We offer a model for knowledge management in high velocity/turbulent environments (HVTE) and several propositions for further exploration.
Findings – The paper provides insights into how and why tacit knowledge is more important to decision making and strategic positioning in high velocity/turbulent environments. High velocity/turbulent environments are defined in the paper and researchable propositions are offered for further consideration.
Research limitations/implications – The complexity of knowledge management is enormous. While we considered several major modifying variables, including trust and efficient knowledge distribution systems in our propositions and models, this may not be reflective of all the continually unfolding components of knowledge management. Similarly, the complexities involved with effective training to prepare people in the military or business to deal most effectively with complex situations in high velocity/turbulent environments may require further development and adaptation. The crux of the argument herein, that in HVTEs the dynamics of the unfolding relationships and situations demand an equally dynamic, responsive and innovative knowledge management capability.
Practical implications – What we have learned from the military is presented and can serve as lessons for businesses to improve their agility in high velocity/turbulent environments. One reviewer of this paper noted that “he worked in a high velocity/turbulent environment” and that based on this analysis he would not have spent “..time investing in explicit knowledge in this environment.” However this requires businesses to (a) recognize what environment they are currently in (stable, high velocity, turbulent); (b) to recognize when the environment is changing; and (c) to adapt knowledge management systems and communication systems that are appropriate for their current environment. Businesses can apply this knowledge in considering the types of environments they operate in and which methods of knowledge transfer would serve them best to remain competitive.
Originality/value – This paper addresses what we believe is missing in knowledge management research to date—how and when tacit knowledge is more critical to organizational success than the use of explicit knowledge. The analysis also provides an environmental framework (high velocity/turbulent environments) that distinguishes the use of tacit and explicit knowledge.
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