Dynamic Theory of Organizational Knowledge Creation, by Ikujiro Nonaka (Part I)


as in a continuous dialogue between tacit and explicit knowledge: the distinction represents the epistemological dimension to organizational knowledge creation; while individuals produce develop new knowledge*, organizations still play a critical role in articulating and amplifying that knowledge. communities of interaction (pe informal) contribute to this through social interaction,  (ontological dimension of knowledge creation)

*the role of the individuals: they are committed to recreating the world in their own perspectives through

  • intention: any consciousness is a consciousness of sth; it creates the possibility of meaning and limits its form
  • autonomy: by allowing people to act autonomously the org may increase the possibility if introducing unexpected opportunities; connected to higher motivation; it gives individuals the freedom to absorb knowledge
  • fluctuation: as in the continuous interaction with the external world; chaos or discontinuity can generate new patterns of interaction; order without recursiveness; periodic break downs are triggered by env fluctuation;

the dominant organization paradigm: a system that ‘processes’ information or ‘solves’ problems, its task being making decisions in an uncertain environment. the input-process-output sequence, however, leaves out the important part of what is created by the organization in the process of problem-solving. the view of knowledge in traditional epistemology is absolute, static, and non human expressed in propositional forms of logic. in the theory of knowledge creation knowledge is a dynamic human process of justifying personal beliefs.

  • information: commodity capable of yielding knowledge; a flow of messages; information, seen from the semantic standpoint, literally means that it contains new meaning; information consists of differences that make a difference
  • knowledge: information produced belief that the information a person receives is relative to what he or she already knows about the possibilities at the source; it is created and organized by the flow of info; explicit or codified is knowledge that is transmittable on formal, systematic language,it is discreet or digital; tacit is when knowledge has a personal quality which makes it hard to communicate, it is rooted in action, it involves both cognitive (mental models) and technical (concrete know-how) elements.


four patterns of interaction between tacit and explicit knowledge_knowledge conversion

  • tacit to tacit: otherwise referred to as socialization; happens through interaction between individuals, no language required but observation, imitation, practice; the key to acquiring it is experience, in fact it is the shared experience
  • explicit to explicit: otherwise referred to as combination; use of social processes to reconfigure existing information  (aka modern computer systems)
  • tacit to explicit: otherwise referred to as externalization; by recognizing contraddictions or by resolving them through analogy
  • explicit to tacit: otherwise referred to as internalization;

The interactions between tacit knowledge and explicit knowledge will tend to become larger in scale and faster in speed as more actors in and around the organization become involved. Thus, organizational knowledge creation can be viewed as an upward spiral process, starting at the individual level moving up to the collective (group) level, and then to the organizational level, sometimes reaching out to the inter-organizational level.


Nonaka, I., 1994, A Dynamic Theory of Organizational Knowledge Creation, Organization Science, Vol. 5, No. 1. (Feb., 1994), pp. 14-37.

Images available here 

2 thoughts on “Dynamic Theory of Organizational Knowledge Creation, by Ikujiro Nonaka (Part I)

  1. Pingback: Research by Design Definition by Johan Verbeke | connecting data to information to knowldge

  2. Pingback: Why Knowledge Sharing and Knowledge Management is More Important Now Than Ever: A Student’s Perspective – Series of Anne

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