Difference between Tacit Knowledge and Explicit Knowledge

It is widely acknowledged that the discipline of Knowledge Management (KM) is vital for the successful completion of business model design, performance, and development. In this sense, the majority of the research being conducted throughout the world is focused on this area. In spite of the fact that it is essential to enhance a company's competitiveness, creativity, and ability to make decisions for its internal management, relatively little is known about the area.

Before we go any further, it is important that you have a solid understanding of the two categories of information that are the most prevalent but the least well-known − "tacit knowledge" and "explicit knowledge."

What is Tacit Knowledge?

Although the language is used very frequently, the precise meaning of the idea of tacit knowledge is only sometimes clarified. The knowledge that is not explicated is known as "tacit information." This type of knowledge is very personal and challenging to codify. It is information that cannot easily be written down, visualized, communicated, or shared since it is contained entirely within people's thoughts.

Tacit knowledge is frequently delivered in an informal manner and is derived from the author's own experiences. Insights, hunches, and intuitions are all examples of types of knowledge that belong under the umbrella of tacit knowledge. It is difficult to express and has its origins firmly ingrained in the behavior and experiences of an individual, in addition to the principles or feelings that are important to that person.

Michael Polanyi, a physical chemist and one of the 20th century's most innovative philosophers of science, is credited with being the first person to use the word "tacit knowledge." The term was first used in his 1958 literary work "Personal Knowledge." He was of the opinion that individuals had more knowledge than they let on.

To put it another way, tacit knowledge is the knowledge that is present in the mind but is not actively accessible at the time of knowing. It is something that can only be gained by experience; it is something that a person possesses but finds difficult to describe in words. It is something that can only be learned through experience. Your understanding of how to ride a bike, for instance, is an example of tacit knowledge.

What is Explicit Knowledge?

The most fundamental type of knowledge is called explicit knowledge, and it may be stated in words and numbers, as well as exchanged in the form of data. Another name for explicit knowledge is expressive knowledge. It is easy to explain and access, and it can be distributed among persons in a formal and methodical manner. Languages, whether spoken or written, are the means through which explicit knowledge may be explicitly transmitted.

The knowledge that is explicit is both conscious and declarative, and it can often only be
accessed via the use of controlled processing. This indicates that explicit information
exists in the form of declarative facts, which can only be accessible by using attention

It is not easily accessible in the use of language that occurs on the spur of the moment when there is little room for thorough forethought. Explicit knowledge consists of everything and everything that is a component of a strategy for managing knowledge.

Explicit knowledge can be found in the form of tangible artifacts such as books, instruction manuals, frequently asked questions (FAQs), reports, databases, how-to videos, and so on. It can be anything that is simple to write down and communicate, such as knowledge that is well documented and makes it easier to take action.

Differences between Tacit Knowledge and Explicit Knowledge

The following table highlights the major differences between Tacit Knowledge and Explicit Knowledge −

CharacteristicsTacit KnowledgeExplicit Knowledge
Tacit knowledge refers to information that you are aware of but have difficulty articulating into words. It is founded on the experiences, recollections, and convictions that are unique to you. Because of its direct relationship to practical abilities, verbal communication of this information is extremely challenging.
The knowledge that is explicit is expressive knowledge that can be easily stated and accessible, as well as the knowledge that can be conveyed between persons in a manner that is both formally and methodically organized.
You may have an intuitive understanding of the conditions and contexts, even when you may not comprehend the reasoning that lies behind them. This type of information is known as tacit knowledge and it is ingrained in your mind. However, putting your thoughts and feelings into words can be a challenge.
The fact that explicit knowledge is also known as conscious knowledge indicates that it is possible to make this information available in the form of data, specifications, manuals, and so on.
The intelligence that is obtained from personal experiences is known as implicit or tacit knowledge, and it can be difficult to transmit this type of information to others. Because it takes the form of statistically weighted links between memory nodes, it cannot be defined in any way as it is now organized. It is functioning in the mind, but at the moment of knowing, conscious access to it is not being granted.
Explicit knowledge, on the other hand, is made up of declarative information that can be located, accessed, and communicated with one another in the form of data.
Some of the most fundamental instances of tacit knowledge are acquiring a new language, driving a car, playing an instrument, driving a nail with a hammer, hammering a nail with a hammer, learning a new sport, developing a new skill, and relying on your intuition.
The term "explicit knowledge" refers to material that has already been written down or documented, such as the information that can be found in books and encyclopedias, instruction manuals, how-to guides and films, databases, and so on. Explicit knowledge can be found in a variety of formats.


It is undeniable that all explicit knowledge is built upon tacit knowledge; but, if it weren't for explicit knowledge, we wouldn't even have a concept of the tacit. The very concept of tacit knowledge is dependent on explicit information in order to exist. The knowledge that is tacit can exist independently of explicit knowledge, while explicit knowledge cannot exist without tacit understanding. Therefore, we may conclude that all knowledge is either tacit knowledge itself or is founded on tacit knowledge. The process of developing new information can only be comprehended on a deeper level after one has a firm grasp of the reciprocal link that exists between tacit and explicit knowledge.

Updated on: 13-Jul-2022


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