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Externalization requires the expression of tacit knowledge and its translation into comprehensible forms that can be understood by others. In philosophical terms, the individual transcends the inner and outer boundaries of the self. During the externalization stage of the knowledge-creation process, and individual commits to the group and thus becomes one with the group. The sum of the individuals' intentions and ideas fuse and become integrated with the group's mental world.

In practice, externalization is supported by two key factors.

  • First, the articulation of tacit knowledge—that is, the conversion of tacit into explicit knowledge –involves techniques that help to express one’s ideas’ or images as words, concepts, figurative language (such as metaphors, analogies or narratives) and visuals. Dialogues, "listening and contributing to the benefit of all participants," strongly support externalization.
  • The second factor involves translating the tacit knowledge of people into readily understandable forms. This may require deductive/inductive reasoning or creative inference (abduction).



Resource: Ikujiro Nonaka, Noboru Konno, The concept of "Ba’: Building foundation for Knowledge Creation.

California Management Review Vol 40, No.3 Spring 1998.



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