What Happens with the New Guy? Tackling the Problem of Tacit Knowledge through Social Networks

Alexandra Galli-Debicella


Tacit knowledge is the key to business continuity and retaining core knowledge during organizational change. Corporations have recognized its importance and implemented knowledge management strategies to ensure valuable knowledge is preserved. While much of the academic research has looked into the nature of tacit knowledge, the role of social networks in maintaining tacit knowledge has been largely unexplored. The following paper seeks to link existing tacit knowledge theory with social network theory through theoretical analysis and literature review. First, social networks are more important when tacit knowledge cannot be codified and when the nature of that knowledge is process-based. Second, while the strength of relationships tends to increase the effectiveness of tacit knowledge transfer, weaker relationships tend to dominate the actual transfer of knowledge. Third, asymmetry in relationships tends to decrease effectiveness of tacit knowledge transfer. The purpose of the paper is to explore when social networks matter more for tacit knowledge communications and what types of social networks are most effective at transmitting tacit knowledge.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5296/jmr.v12i4.17696

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