Knowledge Management in Supply Chains: The Role of Explicit and Tacit Knowledge



We theorize, building on the knowledge-based view and the theoretical distinction between explicit and tacit knowledge, that knowledge management capability across the supply chain manifests itself in explicit and tacit knowledge, which in turn effectuates supply chain performance. The model is tested with survey data from 195 small- and medium-sized enterprises reporting on their primary supply chain. The results indicate that the supply chain's knowledge management capability manifests itself in both explicit and tacit knowledge, with the latter being influenced more strongly. Moreover, it was found that while both explicit and tacit knowledge influence supply chain performance, the latter exerts a significantly greater impact than the former. Exploratory post hoc analyses add robustness to these findings and investigate mechanisms inherent to the transformation of tacit into explicit knowledge. Overall, this research contributes to academic theory development in logistics and supply chain management by the dichotomization of knowledge types and the demonstration of their differential magnitude of effects, and to managerial practice by providing important guidance for logistics managers structuring their knowledge management efforts across supply chains.