Knowledge Transfer

Ever wish you could skip all those exhausting school years and still be smart or successful? Imagine what it would be like if you could download or upload knowledge, literally! How amazing would it be if I could share all my knowledge with my son, and have him share his with his own? Would everyone end up being overloaded with knowledge? Depends…

Knowledge is often expressed in two ways which are tacit and explicit.

Source: Villa Sophia

Tacit Knowledge is the type of knowledge that exists in people’s heads, and are not articulated or documented. In contrast, explicit knowledge is the type of knowledge that can be processed by information systems, codified and recorded, and archived and protected. So, if you are thinking  which one is difficult to pass on, tacit knowledge would be the answer. For example, I cannot just explain to someone how to swim or ride a bike and expect them to do it correctly. It will only be through physical coaching that I can teach him/her how. Tacit knowledge is not something that is easily explained or transferred to another person. It requires interpretation and experience. Explicit knowledge, on the other hand, can be as simple as the instructions on how to assemble a bike.  So, what the roots that define knowledge?

Knowledge, as defined in Oxford dictionaries, is the awareness or familiarity gained by experience of a fact or situation. It is simply the sum of what is known. According to the Data, Information, Knowledge, Wisdom (DIKW) hierarchy, knowledge is the result of experiences or interpretations of information from collected data.  In addition, the creation of knowledge depends on information. However, the development of information requires the application of knowledge (Roberts, 2015).

Source: Mushon

Referring to the hierarchy above, it is clear from the example on the side as to how each layer connects to the other, thus presenting a dependency among them.  Without raw data, information will not exist. Without information, there’s nothing to experience or gain knowledge from. Without knowledge, there is a clear absence of wisdom. But what does it mean to have knowledge about something?

What does it mean to “know”? 

The word “know” or “knowledge”, is something that contrasts with an opinion or beliefs. According to the great philosopher Plato, he described that knowledge is when you have a belief that is true, in which you are justified in holding. For example, I “know” that if I an apple falls from the tree, it’ll land on the ground.  In this case, I don’t just believe it, I also know it. I’m justified in believing that what I know, is true. But it I was to tell you that I “know” I will be busy next week; I am therefore claiming my own belief or opinion to be true without any justification to prove it. Most people often say that they know, but what they truly mean, is that they strongly believe.

So, if one decides to transfer knowledge, how would he/she then determine what or which is the “right” knowledge? Will it be only explicit knowledge or tacit knowledge? Will it depend on what you know? How does one become conscious about their own capacity to retain all that knowledge?  Something to think about…





Roberts, J. (2015), ‘A Very Short, Fairly Interesting and Reasonably Cheap Book About Knowledge Management’.