Tacit knowledge sharing at Higher Education Institutions and its impact on the creation of competitive niches.

  • Martina Holzer Geromin

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Business (DBA)


Driven by the insight that knowledge is power and, therefore, it is the core element for a company to be successful I examined which strategies enhance knowledge-sharing practices and processes among the HEI’s co-workers in order to create new competitive niches. This is especially important in times of ongoing change at an international level as HEIs seem to be increasingly in competition among one another for funds and students' intake. I based my study on the theoretical framework of Nonaka & Takeuchi’s SECI model of knowledge creation (1995) where, according to the authors, the knowledge-sharing takes place in four modes: socialization, externalization, combination and internalization. The main focus of my thesis is the socialization dimension, hence, the face-to-face communication between co-workers and their shared experiences and skills: the ‘tacit to tacit’ knowledge-sharing; the interaction between the different co-workers in the socialization process. Since all knowledge derives from tacit knowledge originally, tacit knowledge is, according to Nonaka/Takeuchi (1995), a person's own personal knowledge and his/her experience and skills; whereas explicit knowledge, on the other hand, is the formal and codified knowledge open to everybody via documents in a systematic language. The study of both literature and empirical data has shown that a special attention must be given to the resource-based view on strategy as it emphasizes the importance of the socialization mode by connecting the respective co-workers with one another in order to create something new. It is such a strategy that focuses on the best deployment of the knowledge resources in order for the institution to take advantage of their co-workers’ embedded, natural, context-specific, difficult to express and attached to the knower’s tacit knowledge. As a result, the key properties of a knowledge-enabling environment (in this thesis called ‘ba’) have been analyzed where tacit knowledge receives its attention by creating space and time for the tacit, hidden, embedded knowledge to emerge. Further field studies in different realities would now be helpful to further extract common patterns for the creation of a sense-making framework of strategy where the tacit dimension of each co-worker is seen to be a unique and remarkable asset for HEIs in order to gain a position of competitive advantage in the market place.
Date of Award1 Jul 2015
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorJuani Swart (Supervisor) & Nicholas Kinnie (Supervisor)


  • Tacit knowledge
  • competitive niches
  • tacit knowledge transfer
  • institutional culture
  • socialization
  • SECI model
  • knowledge workers
  • knowledge brokers
  • bridging
  • bonding
  • interactional expertise
  • tacit knowledge sharing
  • higher education institutions

Cite this