Explicit Knowledge


Explicit knowledge is codified information and data that is written down and can be easily understood and decoded by the recipient. Explicit knowledge at times can be expressed in very formal writing and needs a certain level of education to be so readily understood. Explicit knowledge is usually documented as words, numbers, and codes; and it can be printed, transferred or stored as media. Different forms of explicit knowledge include; manuals, copyrights, patents, scientific formulas, musical notes and mathematical expressions. 


Explicit knowledge should not be confused with Tacit knowledge, which is knowledge that is stored in every person through his/her experiences, emotions, intuitions and observations. Tacit knowledge is knowledge which we do not have words to describe. Tacit knowledge composes the majority of what we know and feel, and it is considered the basic structure that makes explicit knowledge viable. 

Tacit knowledge also differs from explicit knowledge because it is not easily shared. Since tacit knowledge is made up of our experiences and habits, it is hard to bridge this “knowledge gap”, especially since people grow up in different cultures accustomed to varying ways of life. Explicit knowledge can be described as “knowing what”, while tacit knowledge is “knowing how”.  Tacit knowledge can be described as the act of breathing, we all know how to do it, yet we do it without thinking about it. 


The Explicit Knowledge Approach holds that knowledge and information can be easily explained by an individual to an individual. Sometimes some effort and assistance is required to help make the information more unambiguous to the recipient and that is where explicit knowledge in the form of manuals, formulas, and documents come into play. The result of this approach is that the useful knowledge of each individual in a company can be precisely expressed.


The Explicit Knowledge Approach also holds that since there are different types of knowledge that can be made explicit in different ways, formal organizational processes help employees in an organization to effectively express their knowledge better thus creating knowledge assets (patents or copyrights) for the company. Explicit knowledge is used in a company to help sustain organizational procedures, generate, and articulate information and data accordingly.

One of the ways organizations use explicit knowledge is in the creation of manuals. Not only do companies create manuals for its products, but also for its employees. Employees may receive manuals to explain company procedures, or a manual of design techniques. These manuals assist employees, especially, those working in the assembly lines. The manuals and documents provide each employee with an accurate description of what is expected of them.