Knowledge refers to the facts, information, awareness and understanding gained by a person through experience, education or learning. It is broadly classified into two main categories – explicit knowledge and tacit knowledge. Explicit knowledge is the structured set of information which can be recognized, recorded, stored and shared.
We all know that every person gains something from the surroundings, circumstances, incidents, patterns, observations, etc. This is what we call personal experience, which forms the base for Tacit Knowledge. It is an unrecorded, hidden and unstated huge depository of knowledge, which is possessed by every person.
The basic difference between explicit knowledge and tacit knowledge is that explicit knowledge is already codified, whereas tacit knowledge is rooted in the mind.
Content: Explicit Knowledge Vs Tacit Knowledge
|Basis for Comparison||Explicit Knowledge||Tacit Knowledge|
|Meaning||Explicit Knowledge is one which can be easily expressed, written and transferred from one person to another.||The knowledge that is acquired from one's own experience, which cannot be expressed easily through words or pictures is Tacit Knowledge.|
|Nature||Objective, logical and technical||Subjective, cognitive and experiential|
|Transfer||Easily transferable||Difficult to transfer|
|Acquired through||Logical Deduction and hands-on experience||Hands-on experience and in-depth analysis, observation, fact-finding, etc.|
|Recording and Storing||It can be recorded and stored in physical/electronic form.||It defies recording and storing|
Definition of Explicit Knowledge
Explicit Knowledge can be described as the knowledge present in the fundamental form, which can be easily delivered. This is due to the fact that such knowledge is available as written material and saved which can be read, accessed and interpreted by any person. It is documented or recorded information, which facilitates a course of action.
Preferably, explicit knowledge is meant for reuse.
It can be clearly stated by the knower, through verbal statements. It comprises of facts, theories, rules, relationships and policies which can be put to words, in physical or electronic form and shared with people.
Encyclopedia and books are classic examples of such knowledge. It may take the form of procedure manuals, documents, videos, reports, pdf, memos, database, websites and so forth.
Definition of Tacit Knowledge
Tacit knowledge, as the name suggests is the knowledge which a person owns, gathered from his/her personal experience, insights, emotions, observations and circumstances. It is held by the knower in their minds, which is highly personalized and specialized.
Further, its acquisition is due to cognitive processes. Such a form of knowledge is difficult to explain, write down, transfer or quantify.
It is obtained mainly by way of association with other person and needs a mutual effort to be imparted, for its transfer.
It is intuitive knowledge, which is engrained in the context, experience, values, opinions, practices, ideas, perspectives and experiences. It is possessed by an individual, but it is not available in a codified form and is difficult to articulate, as it is stored in the mind of the person.
Hence, for effectively passing on such knowledge factors like personal contact, continuous interaction and mutual trust play a significant role. It adds a competitive skill to a person, as it is difficult to imitate. Such skills include:
- Playing a musical instrument
- Body language
- Emotional intelligence
- Face recognition
- Speaking a certain language
Key Differences Between Explicit Knowledge and Tacit Knowledge
The differences between explicit knowledge and tacit knowledge are discussed in the points given below:
- Explicit knowledge is one that can be articulated, expressed and recorded in the form of text, number, symbol, code, formulae or musical notes. On the contrary, tacit knowledge can be defined as the knowledge which a person acquires from his personal experience, such as by working in an organization or by handling a situation.
- While explicit knowledge is objective, logical and technical, tacit knowledge is subjective, cognitive and experiential.
- When it comes to codification, explicit knowledge can be codified, i.e. it can be written down or expressed in words or carved in a design. Conversely, the tacit Knowledge is innate and not easy to comprehend, so it cannot be communicated, interpreted or used.
- Explicit knowledge is easily transferable. This means that one need not have subject-knowledge for transferring the same. As against, Tacit knowledge cannot be transferred from one person to another without proper knowledge of the same. Further, the transfer is effective only when there is a face to face interaction, apprenticeship and mutual trust and understanding amidst the two.
- Explicit knowledge can be gained through logical deduction and also obtained by way of practical experience in the concerned field. However, to gain tacit knowledge one must have practical experience in the relevant area, as well as it is acquired through in-depth analysis, observation, research and experimentation.
- Explicit knowledge can be recorded at a particular place and stored in physical forms, such as document, book, pdf, files, etc. In contrast, tacit knowledge is intimate and circumstantial. It is scattered, whose accumulation is difficult. Hence, it requires complete participation and cooperation, for dissemination.
In a nutshell, Explicit knowledge is that form of knowledge which can be expressed through words, codes, signs and symbols, as well as which can be stored in books or devices such as a computer, pen drive, tape, hard disk, etc.
Contrastingly, Tacit Knowledge is difficult to transmit by expressing it in written form or by way of speech and it cannot be stored, as it resides in the mind of human beings.