Knowledge Matters » Definition of KT

Definition of KT

Knowledge Transfer is the ability to formally transfer tacit and explicit specialized knowledge/best practices held by individuals and/or business units within an organization. The sharing of the tacit knowledge by the users may generate the information to update the explicit knowledge of the organization, but it may also remain tacit. What is important is that it is known where the knowledge resides so it can be transferred when necessary. In order for this transferred information to have utility, it must be important to the success of the organization.8

Tacit Knowledge is unwritten, unspoken, and a hidden vast storehouse of knowledge held by practically every normal human being, 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. The list of KT activities is extensive and can range from formal education and development (including apprenticeship), mentoring, job shadowing, succession planning, communities of practice, knowledge networks, storytelling, the use of new social media including blogs, wikis, Facebook, etc.

There is a spectrum of knowledge transfer approaches and applications that can be introduced depending on the type of knowledge that needs to be transferred. Below is an overview of Hydro-Québec’s approach to KM/KT which demonstrates the flow of knowledge within their organization and the model used for transferring both explicit and tacit knowledge.

Knowledge Transfer, within the context of this study, is closely linked to strategic Human Resource Management (HRM) and it involves tapping into the knowledge of employees - often before the decision is made to leave the organization. HRM has a critical role in contributing to sustained competitive advantages by facilitating the development, organizational learning and innovation, and helping to ensure the generation, capture and transfer of organizational knowledge.


8 - Davenport, T. H. & Prusak, L. (2000). Working Knowledge: How organizations manage what they know. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.