10 January 2010

Tacit knowledge and innovation capacity: Evidence from the Indian livestock sector

To cope and compete in this rapidly-changing world, organisations need to access and apply new knowledge. While explicit knowledge is important, what is often critical is an organisation’s ability to create, access, share and apply the tacit or un-codified knowledge that exists among its members, its network and the wider innovation system of which it is a part.

This UNU-MERIT discussion paper explores the role of tacit knowledge in livestock sector innovation capacity though the case of Visakha Dairy, one of the most progressive producer-owned milk marketing companies in India. Analysis of two episodes in Visakha’s evolution clearly illustrates how it used tacit knowledge to innovate around challenges.

The paper concludes that while tacit knowledge is clearly a major resource that organisations rely on to cope with change, it does not follow that knowledge management approaches that rely on codifying this knowledge are the way forward.
Instead, what it does suggest is that better management of the learning processes, through which tacit knowledge is generated, would be a more useful contribution to innovation and innovation capacity — in other words, a shift from knowledge management to learning management.

Download the report

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