Up until now there has been plenty of debate about tacit knowledge. The SECI Model of Nonaka & Takeuchi (1995) is well known, but there is reason to believe that the argument that the conversion of tacit knowledge to explicit knowledge is knowledge creation is overly optimistic. This is because tacit knowledge is indeed tacit for the very reason that it is unable to become explicit knowledge, which exposes a logical contradiction in the first instance. Tacit knowledge needs to be acquired or inherited as tacit knowledge, and a hint for how to accomplish this may be said to lay with the attention paid towards learning through participation in social practice and the social world that supports this (Takahashi & Lennerfors, 2012). Here, the proficiency of knowledgeable skills found within practices for learning tacit knowledge is achieved in communities of practice, which embody a creative process that generates the future, and which become institutionalized socially and culturally in places of activity (Lave & Wenger, 1991). The learning of skills is the positioning of learning within the process of participating in social communities in this manner.
Furthermore, in Japan this manner of learning has since olden times been called “Shugyō”, which may mean “Ascetic” or “Spiritual Practice”, “Apprenticeship”, or “Training”. As can be discerned in expressions such as Judo, Kendo and the Way of Tea, traditionally the place of learning was the “Dojo”, and the learning of proficient skills, that is to say the process of learning tacit knowledge, was referred to as the “Way”. This type of traditional learning of tacit knowledge has been inherited within contemporary Japanese corporations, and in fact at many Japanese companies such as KDDI, including Toyota Kyushu, internship centers and education centers are referred to as “Dojo”. In certain cases, the workplaces of Japanese corporations that fundamentally employ OJT are also referred to in the same manner.
These “Dojos” are communities of practice. They are groups of people who share a concern, a set of problems, or a passion about a topic, and who deepen their knowledge and expertise in this area by interacting on an ongoing basis (Wenger, McDermott, & Snyder, 2002). Knowledge is tacit as well as explicit, and sharing tacit knowledge requires interaction and informal learning processes such as storytelling, conversation, coaching, and apprenticeship of the kind that communities of practice provide (Wenger, McDermott, & Snyder, 2002). This space is the “Dojo”, and the “Way” is the process of “Satori” which is to understand the real significance of our world (Takahashi & Lennerfors, 2012).
Our research engages the concept of the “Way” for a Communities Based View of Organizations (Takahashi, 2012) and discusses about learning and inheriting knowledgeable skills, that is to say, the learning of tacit knowledge in Japanese firms.
Standing Conference of Organisational Symbolism (SCOS), Warsaw 13-16 June 2013.