Tacit Knowledge Transfer through Global Narratives
A central topic in the knowledge management literature is the distinction between codified and tacit knowledge: the former refers to knowledge that is easily transmittable through formal, systematic language and communicated through blueprints, maps, manuals and similar formats, the latter to disembodied know-how, acquired via direct experience and informally learned behavior and procedures (Howells 2000: 53; Polanyi 1966). In today’s ever-changing and fast-paced global business environment, knowledge management is considered key in attaining a sustainable competitive advantage (Bartlett & Ghoshal 1993: 41; Grant 1996). And since technological innovations have increased the transferability of codified knowledge, the acquisition and dissemination of tacit knowledge has become particularly important. Multinational organizations have struggled with the transfer of tacit knowledge, supposedly because of the lack of physical (i.e. geographic) proximity between employees. Expatriation programs have long seemed to be the only solution.