What is it about?

This paper identifies the forms of tacit knowledge frequently requested in the job descriptions of knowledge workers in a multinational automotive manufacturer's product development department. The research indicated that the organization most frequently requested tacit knowledge in the form of skills and experience. The paper then explores how and why these forms of tacit knowledge are used in practice to achieve organizational goals. When the use and application of tacit knowledge in the form of skills were further explored in practice, it was found that tacit knowledge-based socially-focused skills were used, which was underpinned by the need to bring people together and align them towards a common goal to make things work; by enabling people to work together as a team; by developing and using networks; and acting as a required resource to support the development and integration in product development. Tacit knowledge in the form of experience was applied through the application of personally obtained experience to enhance development work by acting as a pacemaker for increasing efficiency and a sense of upcoming issues.

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Why is it important?

It has been highlighted that tacit knowledge is an important factor in new knowledge creation in the automotive industry, which plays an important role in new product development. Thus, Western automotive organizations need to effectively retain the relevant tacit knowledge to remain competitive in the face of increasing international low-cost competition. To achieve this, it has been suggested that the codification of essential tacit knowledge is important. This research helps to identify and codify the use and application of important tacit knowledge in the product development department. The work also addresses the paucity of studies identifying tacit knowledge in large organizations and meets calls to investigate the processes and activities related to tacit knowledge in specific contexts.

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This page is a summary of: Keeping the wheels of the automotive industry turning: the use of tacit knowledge by product development workers in a multinational automotive manufacturer, Journal of Intellectual Capital, January 2021, Emerald,
DOI: 10.1108/jic-07-2020-0257.
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