Tacit Knowledge Transfer in the Mentor-Protégé Relationship

Topics: Knowledge, Knowledge management, Tacit knowledge Pages: 15 (4686 words) Published: January 3, 2014

Tacit Knowledge Transfer in the Mentor-Protégé Relationship

Abstract
Organizations are faced with the challenge of retaining tacit knowledge. Mentor-protégé relationships are one area that can assist with this trial. Cognitive-style congruency on knowledge transfer in the mentor-protégé relationship and the effect of tacit knowledge transfer in these relationships can frame an information exchange. Strong relationships between mentors and protégés can prove to be an effective mechanism to enhance tacit knowledge transfer and provide a better and more sophisticated understanding of the cognitive congruency-knowledge transfer link. Although tacit knowledge transfer occurs in many settings and in multiple ways, the process within the mentor-protégé relationship will be reflected and expounded on within this paper. The literature review will examine Kram (1996, 1985, 1983), Nonaka (2001, 1998, 1995, 1994), and several other researchers’ intellect and findings in relation to knowledge transfer in mentor-protégé relationships. This paper also intends to concentrate on the cognitive similarity between mentor and protégé and its effectiveness on tacit knowledge transfer. Keywords: mentor, protégé, tacit knowledge transfer


Tacit Knowledge Transfer in the Mentor-Protégé Relationship
Corporations and knowledge managers have been faced with the dilemma of how to transfer tacit knowledge for years. Unwritten, unspoken, and a hidden storehouse of knowledge held by practically every person, based on his or her emotions, experiences, insights, intuition, observations and internalized information, tacit knowledge is integral to the entirety of a person's consciousness, is acquired largely through association with other people, and requires joint or shared activities to be imparted from one to another. It constitutes the bulk of what one knows, and forms the underlying framework that makes explicit knowledge possible (Nonaka and Takeuchi, 1995). The concept of tacit knowledge was introduced by the Hungarian philosopher-chemist Michael Polanyi (1891-1976) in his 1966 book 'The Tacit Dimension.' Past studies explore the key dimensions of organizational knowledge and have included tacit-oriented method attempts to acquired internal and opportunistic knowledge and share it informally. One of the transfer methods studied is that of the mentor-protégé relationship and how tacit knowledge can be transferred using this relationship.

Much research has been focused on the outcomes for protégés; the mentor’s perspective has not received the same attention. This paper aims to focus on the outcome for both the mentor and the protégé and the two-way exchange of tacit knowledge transfer as well as other possible knowledge management oriented information strategies that can be affected by the relationship. Literature Review

Tacit knowledge has been defined many different ways. In this paper, I build on Michael Polanyi’s original assumption: that all knowledge has tacit dimensions. Knowledge exists on a spectrum. At one extreme it is almost completely tacit, that is, semiconscious and unconscious knowledge held in peoples’ heads and bodies. At the other end of the spectrum, knowledge is almost completely explicit, or codified, structured, and accessible to people other than the individuals originating it. Most knowledge, of course, exists in between the extremes. Explicit elements are objective and rational. They are created in the “then and there” while the tacit elements are subjective, experiential, and created in the “here and now” (Nonaka and Takeuchi, 1995). Tacit Knowledge

For years, scholars like Nonaka and Takeuchi (1995) have said that when knowledge to be transferred is tacit, it cannot be verbally delivered or documented. In this situation, smoother communication, positive mutual feelings, and reciprocal liking that result from...

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Kram, K. E. (1983). Phases of the mentor relationship. Academy of Management Journal, 26(4), 608-625.
Kram, K.E. (1985). Mentoring at work: Developmental relationships in organizational life. Glenview, IL: Scott, Foresman and Company.
Kram, K., & Hall, D. (1996). Mentoring in a context of diversity and turbulence. In E.E. Kossek & S. Lobel (Eds.), Managing diversity: Human resource strategies for transforming the workplace (pp. 108-136). Cambridge, MA: Blackwell.
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