Difference Between Tacit Knowledge and Explicit Knowledge

We all learn new things and pass on our learnings to others now and then. But, did you know, there is a special field of Knowledge Management (KM)? And this field broadly studies innovation, creating things, managing those things, etc.


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And Knowledge Management has been sub-divided into two types they are Tacit Knowledge and Explicit Knowledge, about which we are going to differentiate.

Key Takeaways

  1. Tacit knowledge is personal, intuitive, and difficult to formalize, while explicit knowledge is easily communicated, documented, and shared.
  2. Tacit knowledge is acquired through experience and practice, whereas explicit knowledge is learned from books, lectures, or other forms of structured information.
  3. Tacit knowledge is often context-specific and challenging to transfer between individuals, while explicit knowledge can be readily disseminated and taught.

Tacit Knowledge vs Explicit Knowledge

The difference between Tacit Knowledge and Explicit Knowledge is that Tacit Knowledge is only gained through personal experience. On the other hand, the Knowledge that is taught by others is Explicit Knowledge. When we learn a new thing by ourselves it is the Tacit Knowledge while in Explicit Knowledge people pass on their experiences with others.

Tacit Knowledge vs Explicit Knowledge

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Tacit or Implicit Knowledge is the knowledge that we acquire from our instances of our daily life.

Tacit Knowledge is more valuable because you have a greater impact on your mind when you learn something on your own rather than learning from others. Implicit Knowledge is more valued.

On the other hand, there are several methods from which we can be taught about Explicit Knowledge. Explicit Knowledge involves another person gaining the knowledge.

People often ignore such kind of knowledge because they have not gone through the same thing as the person from whom they are learning.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonTacit KnowledgeExplicit Knowledge
CodificationTacit Knowledge is termed to be non-codified. Explicit Knowledge is presented in a codified manner.
TransferTacit Knowledge is a bit difficult to transfer to others. Easily, the Explicit Knowledge is passed on from person to person.
ExplanationTacit Knowledge is a bit difficult to explain as well as to understand by others because there is no logical evidence for it. Various data sources are available to explain and make someone understand the Explicit Knowledge.
NatureTacit Knowledge is informal. Explicit Knowledge is formal knowledge.
Knowledge SignificanceSince Tacit Knowledge is learned by own experience, therefore it is practical knowledge. It is purely theoretical knowledge to gain about Explicit Knowledge.

What is Tacit Knowledge?

The box of knowledge that is being gained by one’s self-observation, personal experience, etc is known to be Tacit Knowlege. In simple words, it is a self-made solution.

Since the knowledge is only gained by personal experience, therefore it takes time to practice and get the final result for Tacit Knowledge. Tacit Knowledge is a wider range of knowledge and is never limited to something particular.

And, it is said that Tacit Knowledge is non-codified which means that is no particular righteous manner to conduct it, every person will have a different experience and perspective.

Also, Tacit Knowledge is said that it is not transferable. Generally, people criticize or neglect Tacit Knowlege as there is no proper evidence to show people.

Maybe, later if someone remembers and thinks of that knowledge they might relate but it is not necessary that the person might experience the same things.

The factors that mainly affect Tacit Knowledge are communication, attitude, skills, experience, etc. A fine example of Tacit Knowledge is that- if someone learns to ride a bike, starts to dance, learns gardening, etc.

In such a situation, the person becomes perfect only by their efforts and practicing again and again.

What is Explicit Knowledge?

Explicit Knowledge is the type of knowledge that has been learned and adapted via others’ shared thoughts or learning. It is very easy to learn and apply explicit knowledge in our lives, as there is evidence to prove us.

We humans rather believe in written proofs than vocal proofs. This kind of knowledge is taught by others, and we happily accept them without questioning. Explicit knowledge is a more theoretical kind of knowledge.

If you have noticed, Explicit Knowledge is easily transferable as it is accepted. Suppose, you have written a thesis and that thesis has been awarded as the best thesis and hence it is proved that if it is accepted by others then the rest will gradually accept.

And studying and performing the practical based on the data from the textbook or manual is an example of Explicit Knowledge.

Textbook, Teacher, Guide, communication, sharing of own implicit knowledge, etc are the influencing factors of Explicit Knowledge. We learn many things from others in our day-to-day lives, and that is also explicit knowledge.

It is easy to explain ad understand such kinds of knowledge. And, since it is being learned by the available data, therefore it is formal knowledge.

Main Differences Between Tacit Knowledge and Explicit Knowledge

  1. Tacit Knowledge possesses non-codified knowledge. On the other hand, Explicit Knowledge is codified.
  2. It is complex and time-consuming to transfer Tacit Knowledge. On the other hand, it is very easy to convince and further transfer Explicit Knowledge to someone.
  3. The opposite person is generally in denial from accepting Tacit Knowledge. On the other hand, Explicit Knowledge is easy to explain as there is external help from various data sources to understand.
  4. Tacit Knowledge can only be categorized as informal. On the other hand, Explicit Knowledge is a formal form of knowledge.
  5. One needs to learn Implicit Knowledge practically. On the other hand, by various sources, the base of Explicit Knowledge is formed as theoretical knowledge.
  1. https://www.degruyter.com/document/doi/10.7208/9780226113821/html
  2. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=jt19FwO0Kc0C&oi=fnd&pg=PA191&dq=tacit+knowledge+vs+explicit+knowledge&ots=71iQyJX6pn&sig=GPZxb4Y465U2LArAiceZz7zVa8s
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