April 8, 2022
Having a good grasp of the different types of knowledge will help you understand the strengths and capabilities of your team, and better identify the best ways to share and transfer knowledge among them. This, in turn, will stimulate innovation and collaboration, which are both imperative to every company’s long-term success. Here, we’ll drill down and examine the most important types of knowledge, alongside some examples to help you understand them better.
Explicit knowledge, also called expressive knowledge, is deemed the most basic type of knowledge. It covers topics that are easy to write down, store, and share at scale, and they are usually recorded in different formats, like manuals, white papers, or books. Some good explicit knowledge examples include your organization’s code of conduct, mental models, financial statements, and marketing analysis reports as they can be easily organized, interpreted, and stored.
The explicit knowledge definition includes knowledge that can be documented, shared, and transferred to your employees through a knowledge management tool, like EdApp. This LMS platform takes pride in its rapid authoring tool, which is extremely easy to use. Similar to how you would use Microsoft Word or PowerPoint, all you need to do is plug in your knowledge base, customize the font and branding, and you’re all set. Powered by mobile-first technology, it’s extremely easy to use for knowledge-transfer and knowledge-sharing. Your employees can access your company’s knowledge base anytime and anywhere using the devices they prefer.
Implicit knowledge, in its most basic form, is the application of explicit knowledge. These two types of knowledge are interconnected but implicit knowledge is achieved by taking explicit knowledge and utilizing it to perform a specific task. Let’s say, you wanted to learn how to drive a car. Your explicit knowledge is gained by reading the driving manual. Implicit knowledge, on the other hand, is acquired by applying your explicit knowledge into practice, which in this case is driving a real car.
While it can be difficult to document and capture this form of knowledge which is a major distinction from the others, implicit knowledge remains shareable and transferable. For example, you have an employee with the same task as the others, but he/she executes it more efficiently. In other words, this individual may have obtained a different implicit knowledge than the rest of your team members. Through proper process documentation, this type of knowledge can be shared with everyone. Bottom line, it’s possible for all of your employees to apply this implicit knowledge to their workflow and improve their daily performance.
Tacit knowledge is the type of knowledge that you don’t really know that you have and can be conceptual. It’s commonly gained from personal experiences, and people understand it without knowing how to articulate or document it on paper. This type of knowledge is commonly confused with implicit knowledge despite the fact that they’re quite different from each other. As hard as it is, implicit knowledge can be shared and documented. Tacit knowledge, on the other hand, can’t be communicated since it’s all about intuition and gut reactions.
Just think about how exceptional fictional writers can magically come up with the most creative scenarios. Since it’s their tacit knowledge that’s allowing them to think creatively, it’s hard to share their techniques with any aspiring writers and explain their process to them.
Declarative knowledge or propositional knowledge can be defined as an accumulation of knowledge and information. It is often demonstrated through a description or attributes of a subject, thing, event, or information that answers the question “what.” Static in nature, declarative knowledge based information can be easily learned, verbalized, and documented. For example, you know for a fact that Washington is the federal capital of the United States of America, or Christmas is celebrated every 25th day of December. They fall under declarative knowledge because you’re consciously aware of these topics and you fully understand the information.
Declarative knowledge, however, is pretty much useless if it’s only stored in a disjointed collection of facts and data. To make the most of it, organizations should consider organizing their employees’ declarative knowledge into a workable system in order to support their future reasoning and learning. You can try EdApp’s microlearning solutions to put together your business’ declarative knowledge base in a bite-sized form and store them in a centralized repository. By making your declarative knowledge easier to digest, the likelihood of knowledge retention, recall, and engagement among your employees also increases.
Procedural knowledge is a know-how type of knowledge, or in better words, knowing the procedures of something. Basically, a person who has this particular procedural knowledge has the ability to exercise or execute specific actions to solve a problem or perform a task. This type of knowledge usually needs time and experience to master. Think about riding a bicycle. You’d only learn how to stand and balance on a bike after constant practice. And the more you try riding it, the better you get at these skills.
In organizations, procedural knowledge is frequently manifested in organizational processes and practices. Employees equipped with substantial procedural knowledge would know every step of the way when performing their tasks. This type of knowledge, however, can only be obtained after doing a task a handful of times. To save time, you can also speed up the process by initiating training for them.
There’s no need to overspend for a week-long workshop – EdApp can help you organize an online procedural training that would neither cost you a fortune nor demand too much of your valuable time. With this LMS platform, you can present your business’ procedural knowledge in a series of short text or video clips, or even a combination of both. And thanks to EdApp’s immersive content templates, you can rest assured of a higher engagement and retention rate from your learners. It’s also backed by modern cloud-based technology, meaning, your procedure database will be stored in a completely safe and secure ecosystem.
Posteriori knowledge is a theory of knowledge that is commonly used in philosophy and more specifically in epistemology. It comes from the Latin phrase posteriori (“from what is after”), which signifies a type of knowledge derived from sensory experience. Sometimes referred to epistemological, empirical or scientific knowledge, it points to certain concepts that can’t be justified or understood independently unless they’re backed by evidence. For instance, you claim that it’s currently raining outside. To be considered a posteriori knowledge, you must have a strong reason to support and justify this claim. In this case, you can either check the weather news or go outside and see if it’s indeed raining.
Unlike posteriori knowledge, priori knowledge points to certain things or scenarios that are considered facts without holding any evidence from experience. The justification of this knowledge simply comes from rational thought. The prominence of this type of knowledge is largely due to the influence of Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason (1965), which states that priori knowledge is “independent of experience”. Mathematical knowledge is a good demonstration of this type of knowledge. For example, the conclusion of 5+7=12 is proven to be factual, even though there’s no tangible evidence that can be used to prove this claim.
Institutional knowledge, also called organizational knowledge, is a massive collection of data, projects, regulations, perspectives, policies, and procedures of an organization and the people under its scope. In other words, it is what a company knows and how its people operate. The information can either be documented (explicit) or kept within your teams or even individual team members (implicit). The institutional knowledge meaning encompasses knowledge that can be acquired intuitively, but in some cases, it is learned on the job or through training.
Institutional knowledge is deemed one of the most valuable assets in every organization, which is why it’s crucial to preserve and manage it properly. If you’re looking for reliable software that can secure your institution’s transfer of knowledge, EdApp’s microlearning-based LMS is your lifesaver. Not only can it help preserve institutional knowledge, but this elearning software solution can even help convert it into workplace training programs that your team can easily access through their phones and desktops. You can also leverage its gamification features, particularly its gamified quiz templates, leaderboard, and rewarding system to motivate your employees into taking and completing their institutional learning materials and increase the likelihood of retention.
Dispersed knowledge is the type of knowledge that is distributed among different sources. With that in mind, no single person can hold this type of knowledge and even witness its entirety. The fragmented nature of this knowledge typically creates uncertainty, but if managed well, it can bring out creativity and better innovations. Think about producing a movie. If you want to achieve great things, you must form a team of people who are experts in various fields – you’ll need someone skilled at videography, scriptwriting, and scene direction, among many others. The accumulation of such dispersed knowledge will enable you to produce a film masterpiece that you can be proud of.
Last among these examples of knowledge is Domain knowledge, which is also called expert knowledge. It's defined as deep knowledge of a particular domain or expertise in a specific discipline. A person with a domain or expert knowledge is undoubtedly skilled and knowledgeable in their field, but they may only have general knowledge of everything else. For example, in surgery, a doctor may be an expert in fixing hearts, but not in removing brain tumors. In business, an employee can be equipped with domain knowledge in marketing, but not in financing or software development.
Jen is a learning expert at EdApp, a mobile-based training platform that helps corporates and businesses bring their training solutions to the next level. She carries an extensive writing experience in a variety of fields, including architecture, the gig economy, and computer software. Outside of work, she enjoys her free time watching her favorite series and documentaries, reading motivational books, and cross-stitching.