Academic journal article Academy of Entrepreneurship Journal

Examining the Relationship between Tacit Knowledge of Individuals and Customer Satisfaction

Academic journal article Academy of Entrepreneurship Journal

Examining the Relationship between Tacit Knowledge of Individuals and Customer Satisfaction

Article excerpt


Since Polanyi (1967) introduced the concept, tacit knowledge has increasingly gained attention from both researchers and practitioners in different fields. Tacit knowledge is one which the possessor is often quiet unconscious about, because it is built from experience and is difficult to transmit and express in plain language (Chilton and Bloodgood, 2007). According to Smith (2001) tacit knowledge is personalized knowledge to organizational members especially when high-level strategic problems are involved such as handling uncommon customer queries which the firm's information bank cannot readily answer. Identification of tacit knowledge in individuals is based on their perception of issues, value systems, emotional responsiveness and the actions they take at given times.

The authenticity of measuring tacit knowledge spreads across many fields of specialization, such as: Project execution/management (Anand, Ward and Tatikonda, 2010); informatics (Kurti, 2011); in knowledge intensive industries (Harlow, 2008) and so on. Individual-tacit knowledge can be captured based on skill/expertise, experience and attitude (Fei, Chen & Chen, 2009). Alony, Whymark and Jones (2007) observed that most practices of film making and directing in the Australian Film industry is basically guided by tacit knowledge. In another study of the software industry, Ryan and O'Connor (2013) explained that tacit knowledge is essential for high-performing teams' effectiveness. Effectiveness here is determined by their ability to develop new products that satisfy customer requirements.

According to Gebert, Geib, Kolbe and Brenner (2003) and Guchait, Namasivayam and Lei (2010) the influence of organizational knowledge on customer satisfaction can be explained by the capability of employees and management of the organization to build relationship with customers. In their view, establishing relationships with customers can help the organization develop a database that serve as reference to customer queries when needed. So, managing customer relationship has been viewed as a strategic pathway to achieving customer loyalty and retention (Suraj and Bontis, 2012). However, this school of thought has not adequately explained individual's tacit knowledge, in the form of experience and skill, as a means of resolving unexpected customers' challenges that require on-the-spot solutions. For example, in the telecommunications industry where customers go through the firm's on-line knowledge base and yet cannot get their problems resolved, calling a direct attendant in the customer care becomes the last resort. Where the firm's attendant lacks the required problem-solving skill and knowledge regarding the customers' questions, an outcome of customer dissatisfaction might occur. Therefore, there is still a gap in literature regarding the relationship between individuals'-tacit knowledge, as a part of the firm's knowledge resource and customer satisfaction.


Theoretical Background

Human cognitive processes have been identified as important elements in the transformation of information to organizational knowledge (Jeong, Chang and Ribarsky, 2008). Davenport and Prusak (1998) describe knowledge as "a fluid mix of framed experience, contextual information, values and expert insight that provides a framework for evaluating and incorporating new experiences and information." This position identifies human perceptions, experiences and mental framework as major elements that define the scope of how information translates into knowledge. Nonaka and Toyama (2003) identified that a major characteristic of organizational knowledge is that it is created as human engage in relationships. Its survival and continuous existence is ensured as it is disseminated and exchanged among a significant number of persons and across circumstances (Abhary, Adriansen, Begovac, Djukic, Qin, Spuzic, Wood and Xing, 2009). …

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