The purpose of this paper is to understand the role played by tacit knowledge in marketing decision making in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and to extrapolate the ramifications, in terms of practice and theory generation.
To provide support for the existence of tacit expertise, research was framed around three key questions and in-depth interview data drawn from SME senior managers. Although limited in number, interviewees represent a range of different types of SME businesses.
In SMEs, tacit knowledge presents a reservoir of expertise that reflects the recondite characteristics of marketing decision making. Strategies in marketing were found to be about locally situated networks, intersubjective knowledge and intuitive based judgements that led to important company advantages in the market place.
Based on an analysis of the findings and despite the abstruse nature of tacit knowledge, this paper tentatively suggests ways for marketers to unravel it. The suggestion is that tacit and locally significant experience and expertise in marketing is a basis for theory and practice, with potential for dissemination.
Tacit knowledge is a notable, yet widely overlooked area of SME marketing. Highlighted here are both managerial and learning challenges in terms of better conceptualising the understanding of marketing and SME activity regarding this largely unarticulated base of practice.
The authors gratefully knowledge the valued comments received from two senior academic colleagues on early ideas for this paper.
Ardley, B. and Naikar, S. (2020), "Unravelling the unarticulated: SME managers and the role of tacit expertise in marketing", Journal of Research in Marketing and Entrepreneurship, Vol. 22 No. 1, pp. 65-78. https://doi.org/10.1108/JRME-02-2019-0017Download as .RIS
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