Knowledge Management Research & Practice

, Volume 4, Issue 1, pp 60–69

Towards conceptual clarity for ‘tacit knowledge’: a review of empirical studies


DOI: 10.1057/palgrave.kmrp.8500082

Cite this article as:
Gourlay, S. Knowl Manage Res Pract (2006) 4: 60. doi:10.1057/palgrave.kmrp.8500082


Tacit knowledge is important for organizations and management, but we lack adequate theory, and find conflicting claims about the concept. A review of empirical studies of tacit knowledge phenomena found the term has been applied to both articulable and inarticulable knowledge. It is suggested that in the interests of clarity use of the term should be limited to the latter. Tacit knowledge appears due to both experience with the particular objects it is applied to, and to general experiences. A solution to the problem of tacit knowledge explication is proposed, and implications of the study for both managerial and academic practice are outlined.


explicit knowledge knowledge management theory knowledge management practice tacit knowledge 

Copyright information

© Operational Research Society Ltd 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Kingston Business School, Kingston UniversityKingston upon ThamesUK

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