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A structured approach to manage the tacit knowledge of construction employees

Pathirage, CP


CP Pathirage


D Amaratunga

R Haigh


The importance of knowledge as a key determinant of organisational competitiveness
and better performance is increasingly appreciated by both academics and
practitioners. The UK construction industry is perceived as one of the knowledge
based value creating sectors of the economy; however, it faces many challenges,
especially in terms of performance, due to its intrinsic nature. Different knowledge
based solutions to overcome this problem have been proposed in the past. Previous
work on knowledge management in the construction industry has focused heavily on
the delivery of technological solutions. Therefore, this study argues that
personalisation strategies supporting the process-based view of knowledge, to
enhance generation and utilisation of employees' tacit knowledge, would be much
more relevant to overcome performance problems in the construction industry. In
this context, the following research problem is articulated for empirical investigation:
What is the role of tacit knowledge in achieving better performance, and how could
tacit knowledge be managed in construction employees? The research problem was
investigated by developing a conceptual framework, drawing from the literature and
pilot interviews, addressing the process of tacit knowledge management.
The social constructionism philosophy with the case study approach was adopted for
this study. The conceptual framework was refined and validated empirically through
a single longitudinal case study, comprising two phases: an exploratory phase and an
explanatory phase. Interviews and structured surveys were used as the principal data
collection techniques. The primary data analysis techniques used for the study were
content analysis, cognitive mapping and descriptive statistics.
The case study findings challenge the prevailing focus on codification strategies of
knowledge management in construction organisations, which do not recognise the
process-based view of knowledge. Further, it reveals the main sources of tacit
knowledge generation and acquisition, both internal and external to an organisation,
and factors affecting tacit knowledge utilisation at individual, group and
organisational levels. The study introduces a systematic process and five stage
maturity approach for tacit knowledge management. It concludes by stressing the
importance of strengthening the sources of tacit knowledge acquisition, addressing
the factors that affect tacit knowledge utilisation, and evaluating performance of
process and outcomes of tacit knowledge management in construction organisations.


Pathirage, C. A structured approach to manage the tacit knowledge of construction employees. (Thesis). Salford : University of Salford

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Oct 3, 2012
Award Date Jan 1, 2007