The role of tacit knowledge in the work context of nursing Aims of the study. Previous research on the role of tacit knowledge is ambiguous. Some studies show the superiority of expertise, while other studies found experts would not be better than laymen. This paper aims at clarifying the contribution of tacit knowledge to expertise in the domain of nursing. Background. Two important concepts for dealing with critical situations are outlined – tacit knowledge and experience‐guided working. The framework of tacit knowledge and experience‐guided working can contribute to an explanation of the ambiguous results. Tacit knowledge is acquired implicitly in the course of working and is therefore not subject to reflection. For this reason it can contain erroneous or problematic contents. Methods. A method for the explication of tacit knowledge was developed and a laboratory study with 16 experienced nurses conducted. In the laboratory study the nurses had to deal with a critical nursing situation that was developed in co‐operation with nursing experts. The explicit knowledge of the nurses was tested before the laboratory study. Results. No systematic differences in explicit knowledge could be observed, i.e. differences in performance could not be attributed to this knowledge mode. Results from multidimensional scaling procedures illustrate differences in the tacit knowledge of nurses who successfully accomplished the critical situation and those who did not. Conclusions. The findings are in line with the assumption that experience‐guided working is of the utmost importance for dealing with critical situations. Consequences of these results for nursing and person‐related services in general are discussed and the aim of future research is outlined.
Journal of Advanced Nursing – Wiley
Published: Jun 19, 2001
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