Original Research

Tacit knowledge management strategies of small- and medium-sized enterprises: An overview

Aderonke O. Adesina, Dennis N. Ocholla
South African Journal of Information Management | Vol 26, No 1 | a1711 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajim.v26i1.1711 | © 2024 Aderonke O. Adesina, Dennis N. Ocholla | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 02 May 2023 | Published: 16 January 2024

About the author(s)

Aderonke O. Adesina, Department of Information Studies, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Zululand, KwaDlangezwa, South Africa
Dennis N. Ocholla, Department of Information Studies, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Zululand, Richards Bay, South Africa


Background: The study argues that managing tacit knowledge (TKM) would reduce small-and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) operational discontinuity and knowledge loss in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) province, South Africa.

Objectives: The article examined the strategies put in place by SMEs for tacit knowledge management (TKM) practices and to develop a framework that will promote TKM for SMEs.

Method: The study adopted a quantitative research method and targeted 326 SMEs using Google Forms. One hundred and eighty (180; 55.2%) useful responses were obtained and analysed using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences.

Results: Most of the SME owners are aware and affirmed that there is a particular tacit knowledge that is of importance to business. The most common methods of capturing tacit knowledge among SMEs are monitoring, practical sessions, in-house training programmes, and brainstorming. Tacit knowledge is shared during meetings (such as project teams) and when dialoguing. The study also revealed that electronic files in computers are the major tools for storing the collected tacit knowledge.

Conclusion: The study concluded that TKM among SMEs in KZN required improvement and recommended improving teams and informal networks and making information and communication technology tools available to preserve tacit knowledge. The SMEs that can afford it can consider employing the services of consultant knowledge management officers to conduct periodic knowledge audits to identify knowledge gaps for proactive solutions.

Contribution: The study contributed to knowledge management, tacit knowledge, explicit knowledge, and TKM.


tacit knowledge; SECI model; knowledge management; small- and medium-sized enterprises; South Africa

JEL Codes

D83: Search • Learning • Information and Knowledge • Communication • Belief • Unawareness; L26: Entrepreneurship; L70: General

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 8: Decent work and economic growth


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