From parts to whole: A place for individual tacit knowledge in organizational adaptability and resilience
Research Handbook on Organizational Resilience,
July (3rd Quarter/Summer)
In order for organizations to be resilient, the individuals and groups that comprise them must be able to appropriately adapt to the challenge at hand. While some challenges can seem obvious, other challenges are often embedded in complex processes. This makes such challenges harder to discern and, thus, harder to adapt to. Organizations may need to rely on individuals’ tacit knowledge to develop resilient responses to such challenges. Tacit knowledge refers to knowing more than we can tell; such knowledge can be difficult to articulate and thus share with group members and the rest of the organization. In this chapter, I theorize a process whereby individuals articulate tacit knowledge through developing sensory templates, or verbal and visual expressions of what we experience with our bodily senses about situations at work. When a group takes a relational pause to reflect on, and attend to members’ sensory templates, they can develop adaptive moves based on the tacit knowledge in those templates. In turn, those adaptive moves can be shared with other groups, influencing the organization. The theorized model addresses some of the challenges that tacit knowledge presents to organizations, and advances our understanding of how cross-level dynamics enable organizational resilience.