A Dynamic Theory of Organizational Knowledge Creation

Ikujiro Nonaka

Graduate School of Knowledge Science
Japan Advanced Institute for Science and Technology


(Nonaka, Ikujiro. 1994. A Dynamic Theory of Organizational Knowledge Creation. Organization Science 5, no. 1: 14-37.)

A paradigm for managing the dynamic aspects of organizational knowledge creating processes has as its central theme that organizational knowledge is created through a continuous dialogue between tacit and explicit knowledge. An examination of the nature of this dialogue identifies 4 patterns of interaction involving tacit and explicit knowledge: 1. from tacit knowledge to tacit knowledge, 2. from explicit knowledge to explicit knowledge, 3. from tacit knowledge to explicit knowledge, and 4. from explicit knowledge to tacit knowledge. It is argued that while new knowledge is developed by individuals, organizations play a critical role in articulating and amplifying that knowledge. A "spiral" model of knowledge creation shows the relationship between the epistemological and ontological dimensions of knowledge creation. The spiral illustrates the creation of a new concept in terms of a continual dialogue between tacit and explicit knowledge. As the concept resonates around an expanding community of individuals, it is developed and clarified. Gradually, concepts which are thought to be of value obtain a wider currency and become crystallized.

To appear in "Strategic Management of Intellectual Capital and Organizational Knowledge" edited by Nick Bontis & Chun Wei Choo (Oxford University Press).