, Volume 12, Issue 2, pp 367-397

Levels of immersion, tacit knowledge and expertise

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Abstract

This paper elaborates on the link between different types and degrees of experience that can be gone through within a form of life or collectivity—the so-called levels of immersion—and the development of distinct types of tacit knowledge and expertise. The framework is then probed empirically and theoretically. In the first case, its ‘predictions’ are compared with the accounts of novices who have gone through different ‘learning opportunities’ during a pre-operational training programme for running a huge nickel industrial plant in Brazil. These are also analysed vis-à-vis the experience of an expert who has designed and experienced the outcomes of two pre-operational training sessions in the nickel industry before developing and managing the one discussed here. Theoretically, the framework is used to pinpoint exactly what interactional experts who have developed their expertise through linguistic socialisation alone are able to do as well as to analyse the case of technical connoisseurs. The results indicate that the proposed framework is useful. It supports the design and improvement of training programmes for the development of tacit knowledge while at the same time bringing about a refined analysis of claims concerning the abilities of types of experts and expertise.

The methodology described in this paper was protected by the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais (UFMG) through a Patent Application.