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Rethinking Polanyi’s concept of tacit knowledge: From personal knowing to imagined institutions

Ray, Tim (2009). Rethinking Polanyi’s concept of tacit knowledge: From personal knowing to imagined institutions. Minerva, 47(1) pp. 75–92.

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DOI (Digital Object Identifier) Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s11024-009-9119-1
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Abstract

Half a century after Michael Polanyi conceptualised ‘the tacit component’ in personal knowing, management studies has reinvented ‘tacit knowledge’—albeit in ways that squander the advantages of Polanyi’s insights and ignore his faith in ‘spiritual reality’. While tacit knowing challenged the absurdities of sheer objectivity, expressed in a ‘perfect language’, it fused rational knowing, based on personal experience, with mystical speculation about an un-experienced ‘external reality’. Faith alone saved Polanyi’s model from solipsism. But Ernst von Glasersfeld’s radical constructivism provides scope to rethink personal tacit knowing with regard to ‘other people’ and the intersubjectively viable construction of ‘experiential reality’. By separating tacit knowing from Polanyi’s metaphysical realism and drawing on Benedict Anderson’s concept of ‘imagined communities’, it is possible to conceptualise ‘imagined institutions’ as the tacit dimension of power that shapes human interaction. Whereas Douglass North claimed institutions could be reduced to rules, imagined institutions are known in ways we cannot tell.

Item Type: Journal Article
Copyright Holders: 2009 Springer
ISSN: 0026-4695
Keywords: Michael Polanyi; tacit knowing; realism; truth; radical constructivism; imagined institutions;
Academic Unit/Department: Open University Business School
Interdisciplinary Research Centre: Innovation, Knowledge & Development research centre (IKD)
Item ID: 15782
Depositing User: Beryl Ridgway
Date Deposited: 27 Apr 2009 14:25
Last Modified: 23 Oct 2012 18:47
URI: http://oro.open.ac.uk/id/eprint/15782
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