Formalisation versus tacitness: keys for creating and sharing knowledge in innovative large organisations

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Maria José Sousa
Miguel González-Loureiro


In the situated learning theory, we disclose the existence of some tensions that may arise from two opposite forces within a context of communities of practice: the need for formalisation (large enterprises) and tacitness (creativity and innovation). Our study focuses on how these tensions are dealt with in a case study of a Portuguese innovative large enterprise that has developed a knowledge strategy over the last decade.

The keys for overcoming this risky confrontation are related to a combination of “knowledge vision” and the coordinator and culture roles. A question to be addressed by firms in similar situation is “who-knows-what”, in order to identify the key knowledge that must be transformed from tacit into explicit. This would avoid wasting too many resources on making explicit the wrong tacit knowledge. Further research is required in other firms and contexts, on a still underestimated problem within communities of practice


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Author Biography

Maria José Sousa, Universidade Europeia BRU-UNIDE ISCTE/IUL

PhD in Management has developed her professional activities in areas like Innovation, Knowledge Management and Lifelong Learning. She is an author and co-author of several best sellers in ICT and People Management. She has also participated in several national and international projects as part of her research activities. She is also frequent speaker at conferences, mainly on the topics of Innovation and Knowledge Management and Research Methodology.


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