Individual level influencers on tacit knowledge sharing processes Academic Article uri icon


  • Smith (2001) notes that "much of the knowledge on which performance in real-world settings is based is tacit knowledge" and 90 percent of knowledge in any organisation is embedded in people's heads. It is through converting tacit knowledge to value that the organisation obtains the competitive advantages achievable through knowledge management (KM) (KPMG, 2000). Much research explores the management of explicit knowledge but limited progress is made on that of tacit knowledge (Insch et al., 2008; Perez & Mitra, 2007). Employees are the fundamental repositories of tacit knowledge and are the key players in knowledge management initiatives. Tacit knowledge is personal, hard to communicate and exists in individuals mental models (Cho, Li, Su, 2007). It is therefore the individual whom decides if they will share their knowledge (Constant et al., 1994). Thus, an understanding of individual factors and their influence on knowledge management processes is key to the success of any knowledge management initiative (Tohidinia & Mosakhani, 2010). Wang and Noe (2010) and Cho, Li and Su (2007) argue for further research on individual level variables. Additionally, the number of studies on these variables is limited and many define knowledge broadly to include explicit knowledge. This study aims to advance on this research gap and explore the influence of individual level factors on tacit knowledge management processes. The case study is based on an American multinational manufacturing site and the participants are engineers whom engage in routine and non-routine tasks which demand use of both explicit and tacit knowledge. A qualitative methodology is utilised. This paper presents the preliminary results of this investigation.

published proceedings

  • Proceedings of the European Conference on Knowledge Management, ECKM

author list (cited authors)

  • Gubbins, C., Kelly, G., Dooley, L., Emery, C., & Murphy, E.

complete list of authors

  • Gubbins, C||Kelly, G||Dooley, L||Emery, C||Murphy, E

publication date

  • December 2011