The paradox of using tacit and explicit knowledge: Strategies to face dilemnas

Con Connell, Sajjad Jasimuddin, Jonathan Klein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

160 Citations (SciVal)


This paper contrasts two perspectives on the distinction between tacit and explicit knowledge: on the one hand, the perspective that categorises knowledge as belonging to either one or the other class; and, on the other hand, the perspective that views knowledge type as a graded continuum. Design/methodology/approach – The paper explores the extensive literature on the topic, and from this literature engages in conceptual development. Findings – The paper adopts the view that the continuum perspective, in which knowledge in a particular context has both tacit and explicit characteristics, is of particular value when considering the knowledge strategy of an organisation. Whereas the former perspective presents a well-known dilemma, the continuum perspective permits the specification of a strategy in which the advantages of both tacit and explicit knowledge can, in principle, be obtained. One such strategy might be one that renders organisational knowledge as internally explicit, but externally tacit. Originality/value – The paper develops a view of the explicit/tacit dilemma that leads to a possible way forward in resolving the dilemma for organisations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)102-112
Number of pages11
JournalManagement Decision
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2005


  • Corporate strategy
  • Knowledge management


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