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Chen, L and Mohamed, S (2010) The strategic importance of tacit knowledge management activities in construction. Construction Innovation, 10(02), 138–63.
- Type: Journal Article
- Keywords: balanced scorecard; construction industry; Hong Kong
- ISBN/ISSN: 1471-4175
- URL: http://www.emeraldinsight.com/10.1108/14714171011037165
Purpose: Tacit knowledge is perceived as the most strategically important resource of the construction organisation, and the only renewable and sustainable base for its activities and competitiveness. Knowledge management (KM) activities that deal with tacit knowledge are essential in helping an organisation to achieve its long-term organisational objectives. The purpose of this paper is to provide empirical evidence for the stronger strategic role of tacit KM in comparison to explicit KM. Design/methodology/approach: A questionnaire survey was administered in 2005 to a sample of construction contractors operating in Hong Kong to elicit opinions on the internal business environment, intensity of KM activities as executed by targeted organisations, and contribution of these activities to business performance (BP). A total of 149 usable responses were received from 99 organisations representing about 38 per cent of the sampling frame. The statistical analyses helped to map the reported KM activities into two groups that, respectively, deal with tacit and explicit knowledge. The sensitivity to variations of organisational policies and strength of association with BP in relation to the two groups of KM activities were also compared empirically. A total of 15 interviews with the managerial and professional staff of leading contractors was undertaken to provide insightful narratives of KM implementations. Findings: The effective implementation of organisational policies, such as encouraging innovations and strengthening strategic guidance for KM, would facilitate human interactions of tacit KM. Higher intensity of activities in managing tacit knowledge would ultimately help the organisations to achieve economic gain in the long run. Originality/value: The stronger strategic role of tacit KM is empirically investigated and established within the context of construction organisations.