Tacit Skills

Posted in Human Resource Terms, Total Reads: 416
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Definition: Tacit Skills

Tacit skill or knowledge is the kind of knowledge or skill which cannot be transferred easily from one person to another by speaking it out or by writing it down. Tacit skill cannot be quantified yet it is something which every human being possesses by virtue of his/her experiences, reflections, knowledge, information and insights. Some examples of tacit knowledge are the ability to speak a language, to play an instrument, to create a piece of art, leadership, innovation, intuition, humor, body language, emotional intelligence, etc.


The term Tacit Knowledge was given by Michael Polayni who was a chemical engineer turned science philosopher.


Tacit knowledge is very different from explicit knowledge. Explicit knowledge can be written down or communicated verbally like Delhi is the capital of India, but tacit knowledge cant. Tacit knowledge and skills can be acquired from another person by staying in contact with that person for a long period of time or by some out of the box teaching processes or by reflection or self learning. Sometimes people are even unaware of the tacit knowledge they possess.


When organizations try to do knowledge management it is tacit knowledge which is difficult to manage. Firms do not want knowledge loss due to employee turnover but tacit knowledge and skills of an employee cannot be retained when the employee leaves the firm. Tacit knowledge and skills of employees are a source of competitive advantage to a firm because competitor firms cannot copy tacit knowledge of employees.

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