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Conceptualizing Knowledge Creation: A Critique of Nonaka's Theory*

Stephen Gourlay

Journal of Management Studies, 2006, vol. 43, issue 7, 1415-1436

Abstract: abstract Nonaka's proposition that knowledge is created through the interaction of tacit and explicit knowledge involving four modes of knowledge conversion is flawed. Three of the modes appear plausible but none are supported by evidence that cannot be explained more simply. The conceptual framework omits inherently tacit knowledge, and uses a radically subjective definition of knowledge: knowledge is in effect created by managers. A new framework is proposed suggesting that different kinds of knowledge are created by different kinds of behaviour. Following Dewey, non‐reflectional behaviour is distinguished from reflective behaviour, the former being associated with tacit knowledge, and the latter with explicit knowledge. Some of the implications for academic and managerial practice are considered.

Date: 2006
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