The obligatory passage point : abstracting the meaning in tacit knowledge

WALTON, John (2013). The obligatory passage point : abstracting the meaning in tacit knowledge. In: JANIŪNAITĖ, Brigita, PUNDZIENE, Asta and PETRAITE, Monika, (eds.) Proceedings of the 14th European Conference on Knowledge Management. Reading, UK, Academic Conferences and Publishing International Limited, 769-775.


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The lived experience of individuals in the workplace results in an accumulation of dispositions to act. Such dispositions have been termed knowledge [Boisot 1998]. Further, this knowledge is considered to be tacit or explicit [Baumard 1999]. Therefore tacit knowledge is one of the precursors of new knowledge. There have been a number of hypotheses as to how such knowledge is transformed into explicit knowledge [Nonaka et al 2000], and then subsequently diffused [Boisot 1998]. Moreover it is impossible to know the magnitude of tacit knowledge that is not articulated, however insightful, original or crucial it may be. The transformation to the explicit rendition can and will act as a filter in an attempt to eliminate meaningless utterances. Therefore some tacit knowledge will be lost in this process. This is an Obligatory Passage Point (OPP) a concept normally associated with Actor Network Theory [Latour 2005]. This is where the decision is made as to ‘what counts’ as legitimate knowledge and it is irreversible. This obligatory passage point is for all tacit knowledge in a community, an organization or even a nation. The case study presented comprises a small number of individuals working in a third sector environment. Although there is agreement as to what is to be achieved, the how question remains open. Despite the common concrete experiences, the tacit appreciation of the perceived action world varies significantly. A process by which an inventory of tacit knowledge can be established, abstracted and combined to act as a base to affect dispositions and expectations is described. The path to the subsequent generation of actionable knowledge is plotted which can subsequently form the basis for an intervention. The delineation between tacit knowledge and explicit knowledge in this context is explored by the application of the obligatory passage point. Utilizing the principles of language by Karl Buller the notion of legitimation is discussed. The OPP is significant because when tacit knowledge is shared, there is a process of gaining inter-subjective agreement which legitimizes the explicit representation of the tacit knowledge. The eye can see and interpret the world, but it cannot see itself. All tacit knowledge is gained through the mind’s eye. The collective minds are seeing the collective tacit knowledge of the group and agreeing.

Item Type: Book Section
Uncontrolled Keywords: Actor Network Theory; Tacit Knowledge
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Cultural Communication and Computing Research Institute > Communication and Computing Research Centre
Departments - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Faculty of Science, Technology and Arts > Department of Computing
Identification Number: 2048-8963
Page Range: 769-775
Depositing User: John Walton
Date Deposited: 29 Oct 2013 11:54
Last Modified: 18 Mar 2021 06:10

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