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Engaging tacit knowledge in support of organizational learning

David Bennet (Mountain Quest Institute, Frost, West Virginia, USA)
Alex Bennet (Mountain Quest Institute, Frost, West Virginia, USA)


ISSN: 0305-5728

Article publication date: 11 April 2008




The purpose of the paper is to identify and develop an understanding of the aspects of tacit knowledge that play a significant role in enabling organizational learning.


Taking a multi‐dimensional approach, this paper moves toward an understanding of tacit knowledge through the lens of neuroscience, evolutionary biology, psychology, competency theory and knowledge management. The paper begins with the definition of knowledge, then discusses explicit, implicit and tacit knowledge and their relationships. Then individual learning is explored through the four aspects of tacit knowledge (embodied, affective, intuitive, and spiritual). Next the concept of extraordinary consciousness is developed and a four‐fold action model proposed for working with tacit knowledge to improve organizational learning. Finally, this model is engaged to begin the exploration of the role of leadership with respect to tacit knowledge and organizational learning.


The recognition that tacit knowledge resides beyond ordinary consciousness leads to the search to develop greater sensitivity to information stored in the unconscious to facilitate the management and use of tacit knowledge. Surfacing, embedding and sharing tacit knowledge are approaches for mobilizing tacit knowledge in support of individual and organizational objectives. In addition, it was forwarded that participating in or exposing ourselves to situations that induce resonance engages our personal passion in developing deeper knowledge and expanded awareness of that knowledge, that is, moving us toward extraordinary consciousness.


This paper is a new treatment of tacit knowledge that is consistent with recent findings in neuroscience and evolutionary biology. Further, it begins the exploration of ways to achieve extraordinary consciousness, thereby enhancing the capacity of an organization to learn.



Bennet, D. and Bennet, A. (2008), "Engaging tacit knowledge in support of organizational learning", VINE, Vol. 38 No. 1, pp. 72-94.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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