An investigation into tacit knowledge management at the supervisory level.
Williams, D. J. (2011). An investigation into tacit knowledge management at the supervisory level. (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/10289/5743
Permanent Research Commons link: http://hdl.handle.net/10289/5743
An investigation into tacit knowledge management at the supervisory level Objective: The purpose of this study was to investigate how supervisors managed tacit knowledge. Aims: The aims were to understand what tacit knowledge looked like on the shop floor, to understand "experience‟ in terms of tacit knowledge, and to describe the methods and techniques that supervisors used to manage this elusive resource as they went about the task of achieving organisational goals. Method: Qualitative data was collected using a novel iterative participant observation method, where the researcher-as-instrument was embedded as a novice (but privileged) employee for extended periods in four different case study sites. Over the course of the study, the researcher took on the role of laboratory technician, electrical engineer, manufacturing process worker, and aircraft maintenance engineer. A grounded theory approach was taken to the analysis of the various field notes, photographs, video, audio, and found objects. The methodology was augmented with specialist qualitative research software to manage the data. Results: It was found that supervisors' tacit knowledge management activities can be classified according to formal and informal behaviours that correspond with Nonaka and Takeuchi's SECI knowledge life cycle. It was also found that a worker's task related tacit knowledge has seven aspects in five levels of competency, and their experience can be described in terms of 10 categories of tacit knowledge working capital. Insights attributed to the novel method of data collection produced an unexpected finding – the Home Guard model, which describes how the value of an individual's knowledge sharing activities is related to their power distance and self-confidence. Conclusions: The findings provide empirical support for existing knowledge management theory, identify specific supervisory behaviours that support tacit knowledge management on the shop floor, and extend the knowledge management discourse with new theories about knowledge sharing behaviours that have direct application to the supervisory role.
University of Waikato
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