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Using the SECI knowledge management model and other tools to communicate and manage tacit indigenous knowledge

Patrick Ngulube


The need to preserve indigenous knowledge systems is widely recognised. However, there is much debate over whether or not tacit indigenous knowledge can be easily managed. The debate is exacerbated by the fact that some scholars have even argued that, what meets the eye in an indigenous context is only the tip of the iceberg and most of the knowledge is embedded in some invisible layers, hence extremely difficult to manage. Although all knowledge might be tacit, as Polanyi (1966) argued, we posit that it can be articulated both tacitly and explicitly, for example, through artefacts that the indigenous people produce, music, story telling and through the SECI knowledge management model produced by Nonaka and Takeuchi (1995). The SECI model links tacit and explicit knowledge through four phases: socialization, externalization, combination and internalization. In that regard, tacit knowledge can be converted into explicit knowledge and vice versa.

Innovation No.27 December 2003: 21-30