• Linda Paralez

About Knowledge Transfer Part 1

Updated: Apr 18


First, it is helpful to set some definitions of types of knowledge that are present and interacting in most organizations, followed by some discussion of types of knowledge transfer that are effective and ineffective in the organizational setting.

Types of Knowledge Human Knowledge – This constitutes what we know and know-how to do.  This knowledge is manifested as a skill or expertise – such as the design of static and dynamic loading of structures (structural engineering) – or the complexities of policy development and implementation.  Further, human knowledge is often described on a continuum of explicit to tacit – from knowing ‘how’ to perform a task to the cognitive, conceptual or abstract knowledge about a topic.

Social knowledge – This form of knowledge exists only in relationships, either between individuals or within groups.  It is largely tacit in nature (cognitive, conceptual in nature) and develops only as a result of working together. Its presence is reflected in high levels of trust and an ability to collaborate effectively.[1]

Cultural Knowledge – This type of knowledge reflects a collective understanding of how things are done in the organization – what the ‘unwritten rules are.’  This knowledge guides how you are expected to think and behave if you are to fit in and be accepted as a member of the group.  While social knowledge is defined as intellectual capital residing in specific relationships – in contrast, cultural knowledge is collective knowledge that is shared more broadly across the organization.[2]

Structured Knowledge – This type of knowledge is embedded in the systems, processes, technology, tools, and routines of the organization.  In this form, knowledge is explicit, rule-based, formal and defined as an organizational resource/asset.[3]

[1] D. Cohen and L. Prusak, In good Company:  How Social Capital Makes Organizations Work. (Boston:  Harvard Business School Press, 2001) [2] S. Sackman, Cultural Knowledge in Organizations:  Exploring the Collective Mind. (Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications, 1991)



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