Difference Between Tacit Knowledge and Explicit Knowledge

Edited by Diffzy | Updated on: May 11, 2023


Difference Between Tacit Knowledge and Explicit Knowledge

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Being aware or familiar is a sort of knowledge. It can also signify familiarity with things or situations. It is frequently taken to mean fact awareness or practical abilities. The study of knowledge encompasses a wide range of topics, and it is important to many academic fields. It is the main topic of the area of epistemology, which examines what people know, how they learned it, and what it means to possess knowledge. Tacit and explicit knowledge are two types of knowledge and both are valuable in every organization and research. This is due to the fact that they involve many information sources with varied emphases, which are the most beneficial for any research or organization. Any topic of inquiry benefits from the combination of tacit and explicit knowledge. By filling in the gaps left by a lack of explicit information, tacit knowledge will improve how the organization runs. The two types of knowledge that are the most common but least well-known are “tacit knowledge” and “explicit knowledge”, “therefore it’s crucial that you comprehend them before continuing.

Tacit Knowledge Vs. Explicit Knowledge

The majority of tacit information is personal in nature and is typically held in an individual’s head. Thus, it is challenging to remove from people’s heads. On the other hand, formalized and easily communicable explicit knowledge is what is being used. Unlike tacit knowledge, explicit knowledge may be described.

Difference Between Tacit Knowledge and Explicit Knowledge in Tabular Form

ParametersTacit KnowledgeExplicit Knowledge
OriginPersonal knowledge embedded in an individual.Fact-based, publicity is available and beyond dispute.
StorageExperience and involving such intangible factors as personal beliefs, perspectives, and values.Possibly recorded in documents, also includes scientific and technical knowledge, common understandings, the right way of doing things, and socially accepted norms.
ArticulationInformal, action and discourse orientedEasily verbalized, and stated in the form of rules or notes. Includes knowledge of organizational structures, business rules, and many more.
NatureDynamic in nature as it is embedded in an individual’s brain which cannot get extracted easily but can be changed by a change in perspective.Static in nature as the way of articulating can differ from one article to another, but the facts and statistics remain the same. It cannot be changed even if the articulation of writing the article is different.
DocumentationIt is difficult to codify it and share. It cannot be documented.It is easy to codify and share. It can be transferred, taught, learned, and gets documented.

What is Tacit Knowledge?

The knowledge you’ve acquired from life experience- in both your personal and professional development is referred to as tacit knowledge. Because it is influenced by our individual views and ideals, it is frequently subjective, informal, and challenging to discuss or express. Abstract tacit information influences our perception of and behavior in the world.

Chemical engineer turned scientist Michael Polanyi coined the phrase “tacit knowledge” in his 1958 book Personal Knowledge: Towards a Post-Critical Philosophy. He claimed that there was knowledge of a kind that we were unable to describe.

It is often expressed in:

  • Behaviors
  • Actions
  • Habits
  • Routines
  • Instincts
  • Responses
  • Intuitions

Although tacit knowledge can be acquired through conventional learning techniques like studying, most people improve their tacit knowledge through real-world experience, context, and training. Employees frequently acquire tacit knowledge via presentations, managerial techniques, or sales efforts. These are examples of the kinds of knowledge that can be difficult to impart to new employees.

To understand in a deeper sense, the example can be like this: Consider two individuals who play distinct responsibilities at the same marketing company. An SEO marketing expert will respond to the same queries differently than an email marketer because they have different backgrounds. They will probably respond depending on their particular knowledge and experiences. Even two persons with the same employer and job will have distinct experiences. When racial or gender characteristics are taken into account, the discrepancy is accentuated even further.

Benefits of Tacit Knowledge

Allows You To Learn From Other’s Experiences

The benefit of sharing tacit information is that it fills in knowledge gaps and allows you to gain insight from others’ experiences. You can learn how to enhance your company’s operations by being open to the perspectives of others. The benefit of making mistakes early on and picking up knowledge from others’ mistakes is that it gives you a clearer path for the future.

Helps To Communicate More Effectively

Misunderstandings are an unsettling but vital aspect of working in a company. Think about it: if everyone agreed with each other, innovation would not exist. Conflicts resulting from disparities in tacit knowledge also push people to improve their communication skills. Making all information public and available to all employees via an internet knowledge base is one of the ways to prevent misconceptions. Companies and leaders may align goals, communicate clearly, and share knowledge by using a knowledge management system.

Teaches You To Recognize Other Points Of View

A company’s most precious asset is its human capital and one of the best things it can do is to take advantage of each employee’s knowledge and perspective. Technical skills can be taught by any organization, but as was already noted, each person’s implicit knowledge and experience are more important. Understanding another person’s viewpoint and being able to sympathize with them are important customer service skills. Giving your customers perspective priority is how you may build a strong relationship with them.

It Differentiates Your Company From Competitors

Tacit knowledge integration gives your business a competitive edge. It not only helps with decision-making, but it also gives your business the tools to better serve its internal and external stakeholders. The tacit knowledge of the staff should be valued since it is priceless. Competitors can copy your tactics and equipment, but they can’t duplicate the ideas and contributions of the staff. Also, by establishing best practices and exemplifying the ideal method for completing tasks, an individual can work more efficiently and help to boost productivity.

What is Explicit knowledge?

Explicit knowledge is the kind of information that people directly communicate and exchange. Explicit knowledge can be processed, stored, arranged, and interpreted in the form of data. Its message is simple to comprehend and can be expressed both verbally and in writing. Because it may be recorded in a knowledge base or used as part of your knowledge management plan, this kind of knowledge is very transferrable across personnel. A basic example can be a financial report that lists a company’s income and expenses since anyone can access, examine, and process this data. Expressive knowledge is another term for explicit knowledge as it is simple to understand and obtain, and it may be dispersed among people in a formal and orderly manner.

It can be codified and digitized in the:

  • Documents
  • Reports
  • Books
  • Manuals
  • Databases

The examples of explicit knowledge can be as:

The employee handbook: Employers may provide this book to new hires or as part of continuous training. For the benefit of the workforce, it explains the business, employment, and job-related information. These manuals can be distributed to department managers so that new hires can quickly learn more about the company and settle into their new responsibilities.

Code of conduct: A company’s code of conduct serves as a standard for how employees should behave. These policies describe how employees should behave, the reporting structure, who has what authority, and more. The guidelines or procedures that staff must abide by, such as turning down customer gifts, may be described in this document. Companies can provide the employee code of conduct in a variety of ways, such as by posting it on the intranet.

Operational manuals: Similar to a user manual but in-depth, an operational manual. As a result, there are fewer oversights as personnel is guided to carry out their duties properly.

Benefits of Explicit Knowledge

Enhanced Organizational Agility

The company’s agility is increased when employees have access to relevant explicit knowledge. Employees can obtain and make use of knowledge because it doesn’t stay secret. A business can operate considerably more quickly when its employees can exchange useful information with the clients or among themselves. Employees are able to learn new information that enhances their performance on the job by explicitly sharing their expertise with others within the organization or perpetually.

Faster- Decision Making

Employees can make decisions more quickly if they have easy access to explicit knowledge rather than needing to search the organization for the relevant person with the expertise. Employees, for instance, don’t have to wait for an email or a Slack response because the information is immediately at their fingertips. The worker will simply conduct a search within the knowledge management system to locate the appropriate response.

Clear Communication

An organization’s communication flow is enhanced by explicitly defining facts and information to build knowledge. It facilitates smooth communication between staff and management and gives everyone access to the same data. There is no chance of confusion or disruption because everyone has access to the same information.

Reduce Errors And Streamline Operations

Employees are more productive and less prone to make mistakes when policies and procedures are documented. For instance, the employees can refer to the material in the knowledge base when completing a task to follow the process and make sure everything goes as planned. To improve operations, staff members can also openly discuss sensitive information like client comments.

The Main Difference Between Tacit Knowledge And Explicit Knowledge in Points

  • Explicit knowledge is objective, logical, and technical in nature whereas tacit knowledge is subjective, cognitive, and experiential.
  • Explicit knowledge is acquired through logical deduction and empirical method whereas tacit knowledge is acquired through hands-on experience and observation.
  • Explicit knowledge can be codified i.e. it can be recorded in writing, stated verbally, or carved in a design whereas tacit knowledge cannot be shared, interpreted, or employed because it is innate and difficult to understand.
  • Explicit information may be written down and kept in physical forms like documents, books, PDF files, etc. at a specific location whereas tacit knowledge is personal and based on evidence. It is dispersed and difficult to accumulate. As a result, full cooperation and participation are needed for distribution.
  • Transferring explicit knowledge is simple. This implies that subject knowledge is not necessary for the transfer of the same whereas tacit knowledge cannot be passed from one person to another without that person having the necessary knowledge. Also, the transfer only works when there is direct communication between the two parties, an apprenticeship, and a sense of mutual respect and understanding.
  • Explicit knowledge is that which can be stated, written down, and articulated as text, numbers, symbols, codes, formulas, or musical notes whereas tacit knowledge is the knowledge that a person learns via personal experiences, such as through employment in a company or the management of a problem.


It can be observed that tacit knowledge and explicit knowledge both are valuable and suitable for an organization.  They both work on a parallel basis and have equal importance. Knowledge is the base for anything to be achieved whether acquired from experience and observation (tacit knowledge) or factual (explicit knowledge).

Whatever the definition of company knowledge, it all ultimately plays a crucial part in the day-to-day management of an organization. Yet, you must comprehend how various forms of knowledge are shared and best maintained in order to create a successful knowledge-sharing strategy.

Undoubtedly, tacit knowledge serves as the foundation for all explicit knowledge, but without explicit knowledge, we wouldn’t even be able to conceptualize the tacit. Explicit information is necessary for the very concept of tacit knowledge. Because explicit knowledge cannot exist without tacit understanding, tacit understanding can exist independently of explicit knowledge. We can therefore draw the conclusion that all knowledge either originates from tacit knowledge or is built upon it. If one has a strong understanding of the reciprocal relationship that exists between tacit and explicit knowledge, one can only appreciate the process of creating new information on a deeper level.


  • https://www.indeed.com/career-advice/career-development/explicit-knowledge
  • https://info.aiim.org/aiim-blog/tacit-knowledge-vs-explicit-knowledge


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"Difference Between Tacit Knowledge and Explicit Knowledge." Diffzy.com, 2024. Fri. 19 Jul. 2024. <https://www.diffzy.com/article/difference-between-tacit-knowledge-and-explicit-knowledge>.

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