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Tacit Knowledge

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2005 Annual Conference


Portland, Oregon

Publication Date

June 12, 2005

Start Date

June 12, 2005

End Date

June 15, 2005



Conference Session

Special Topics in Entrepreneurship

Page Count


Page Numbers

10.1191.1 - 10.1191.12



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Paper Authors

author page

Robert Podlasek

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Tacit Knowledge in the Innovation Process

Robert J. Podlasek, PH.D, PE Department of Mechanical Engineering Bradley University


Technical innovation and entrepreneurship drive economic growth and prosperity. The success of the innovation process depends on utilizing new and existing technical knowledge expeditiously and in novel ways. Many new ideas are the result of the convergence of knowledge from seemingly unrelated domains and/or fields of interest. Moreover, innovative ideas tend to emerge from a combination of experience, published information, and dialogue. This process of collaboration and team science to promote innovation should be an important component of a broadly based Engineering Education program.

As many have noted, knowledge can either be explicit or tacit. Nonaka1 identified four basic patterns for creating knowledge in any organization, with the tacit-to-tacit and explicit-to-tacit knowledge transfer being the most difficult to initiate, particularly between experts from vastly different technical domains. If the innovation process is to advance, the tacit-to-tacit and the explicit-to-tacit knowledge transfers must be facilitated within an organization.

Peoria NEXT is an organization, established in 2001, to support the culture of discovery, the creation of innovation and the implementation of commercialization in the areas of life science, material science, and engineering science in Peoria, Illinois USA. Recognizing that the innovation process would be enhanced by collaboration among the over 300 research scientists and engineers from a wide range of domains, the Peoria NEXT organization initiated 11 Knowledge Communities to stimulate the tacit-to-tacit knowledge transfer and the explicit-to- tacit knowledge transfer to aid in the ideation phase of the innovation process. The Knowledge Communities were established for a one-year period followed by an evaluation period and consisted of groups of 8 to 10 scientists, academics and engineers. The Knowledge Communities were established for a one-year period followed by an evaluation period and consisted of groups of 8 to 10 scientists, academics and engineers. These groups served as a forum to collect, evaluate and embellish new ideas from the various researchers. The Knowledge Communities bridged traditional intellectual disciplines and ranged from Medical and Engineering Robots to Health Systems and Biotechnology to Ethics.

Members of the Knowledge Communities came from primarily four organizations with distinct research cultures and with different reward systems. The results of the first-year effort resulted in several successful collaborations, but also clearly determined that the members of each organization have different value propositions for participation. The faculty collaborations can be translated into educational paradigms, particularly for the engineering senior design classes.

“Proceedings of the 2005 American Society of Engineering Education Annual Conference and Exposition” Copyright © 2005, American Society of Engineering Education

Podlasek, R. (2005, June), Tacit Knowledge Paper presented at 2005 Annual Conference, Portland, Oregon. 10.18260/1-2--15023

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2005 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015