Transfer of Tacit Knowledge

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The role of tacit knowledge in innovation management
January 2004 Ragna Seidler-de Alwis Institute of Information Science University of Applied Sciences, Cologne Claudiusstr. 1 50678 Cologne, Germany Tel.: ++49 221 8275-3387 Mobile: ++49 175 1861855 Email: Evi Hartmann A.T. Kearney Platz der Einheit 1 D – 60327 Frankfurt, Germany Tel: +49 69 9550 7550 Fax: +49 69 9550 7555 Mobile: +49 175 2659 514 Email: Hans Georg Gemünden Institute of Technology and Innovation Management Technical University of Berlin Hardenbergstr. 4 – 5, HAD 29, 10623 Berlin Tel: +49 30 314 26088 Fax: +49 30 314 26089 Email: RAGNA SEIDLER- DE ALWIS, Professor at the Institute of Information Science at the University of Applied Sciences in Cologne, Germany. EVI HARTMANN, PhD, Consultant at A.T. Kearney, Frankfurt, Germany. HANS GEORG GEMÜNDEN, Professor, Chair of the Institute of Technology and Innovation Management at the Technical University of Berlin, Germany.

Competitive Paper submitted to the 20 Annual IMP Conference in Copenhagen, 2th - 4th September 2004 th


Abstract Innovation management includes the management of processes to strive for novel assignments through the combination and integration of different knowledge components. Besides, next to explicit knowledge, tacit knowledge has a crucial influence on the success of innovation processes in companies. The sole application of tacit knowledge cannot guarantee an effective innovation process as organizational knowledge for innovation is created through a continuous dialogue between tacit and explicit knowledge, where four different modes of knowledge conversion can be postulated. Tacit knowledge is mobilized through a dynamic combination of the different modes of knowledge conversion in a process, which can be called a “spiral model” of knowledge creation. Tacit knowledge is an important driver in the innovation process and its application has significant impact on the innovation process and, therefore, plays a prominent role as a company resource and success factor. Compared to the work on explicit knowledge, the management of tacit knowledge is relatively unexplored. The authors of this paper want to assess the significance and implications of tacit knowledge in the innovation process. Therefore, it is essential to understand the different approaches of tacit knowledge in knowledge management and innovation management literature, and its assigned characteristics. The purpose of this paper is to structure the existing research by identifying the underlying dimensions. The role of tacit knowledge in innovation management is explored; creation, availability and transfer of tacit knowledge within the organization are discussed, and examples of barriers to generating and sharing tacit knowledge are given. Based on this literature review the authors have developed an integrated model describing the impact of tacit knowledge on successful innovation management. Key levers for tacit knowledge management have been identified and the positive impact of tacit knowledge on innovation success is analysed. In a next step, this model will be tested by an empirical study. Finally, suggestions for future research are discussed.




Nowadays innovation success is becoming even more important. After months and years of restructuring and cost cutting to regain profitability, many firms are forced to renew their product portfolio. Only with new products can they sustain their competitive position by increasing revenues and profit, leading to an improved company value. But do the firms have the right conditions and environment to lead them to maximum innovation success? Do they understand the appropriate triggers and levers for optimising their innovation success? The authors stress the role of tacit knowledge as one key lever for achieving this innovation success. They analysed the existing...
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