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Deconstructing workplace “know how” and “tacit knowledge”: Exploring the temporal play of being within professional practice

Kevin J. Flint (Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK)

Higher Education, Skills and Work-Based Learning

ISSN: 2042-3896

Article publication date: 4 October 2011




Over the past two decades across a number of sectors of the economy there has been an ever increased interest in attempting to understand the mediation of “tacit knowledge” in developing professional expertise. Much thought has been invested in studies which attempt to resolve the difficulty of revealing tacit knowledge and finding ways of transferring it within institutions and across organisations. But, in general these recent studies, and the approaches they have adopted, do not take sufficient account of the phenomenology of human being, Dasein, which is essentially temporal: the purpose of this paper is to address this issue.


The approach here is based on a phenomenological and deconstructive study of two small–scale comparative cases of the mediation of tacit knowledge in the development of professional expertise in Higher Education, within the context of social practice and educational practice. The cases will each serve to provide a focus upon professional expertise in teaching in each of these domains of professional practice.


Deconstruction will serve to illuminate the essential differences between what is observed and re‐presented as episodes of teaching and the complex interplay of temporality that in each case is unique to the individual human being.


In the field of work‐based learning this paper adopts a novel approach. The deconstruction of tacit knowledge against indications drawn from Heidegger's ontology serves to bring into sharp relief the unfolding of essential forms of technology. By focusing the analysis upon the language in which the knowledge is generated and the phenomenology of human being, Dasein, the study will seek to explore some of the implications of attempting to convert “tacit knowledge” into a technology that can be transferred across organisations and institutions. It will illuminate the situation‐specific nature of tacit knowledge as grounds for professional expertise.



Flint, K.J. (2011), "Deconstructing workplace “know how” and “tacit knowledge”: Exploring the temporal play of being within professional practice", Higher Education, Skills and Work-Based Learning, Vol. 1 No. 2, pp. 128-146.



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Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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