Eliciting tacit knowledge in professions based on interpersonal interactions

Dan Asher, Micha Popper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: The notion of tacit knowledge is mostly discussed with regard to experts’ knowledge (Sternberg et al., 1995). It is less discussed in the context of interpersonal interactions, which are very common in organizations and in certain occupations (e.g. negotiations and therapy). The limited reference to this aspect is due to the lack of appropriate methodologies. This study aims to deal with this lacuna; specifically, how to elicit tacit knowledge in professions based on interpersonal interactions. Design/methodology/approach: A case study was chosen to demonstrate the use of symbolic interaction key concepts (Goffman, 1959) as a method to evoke tacit knowledge. The information was gathered from interviews conducted among 20 business negotiation experts. The “onion” model (Asher and Popper, 2019) was used as a tool to analyze various layers of tacit knowledge. Findings: The suggested framework enabled the exploration and characterization of tacit knowledge in professions based on interpersonal interaction, which would not have otherwise emerged. Practical implications: As interpersonal interaction is a complex and abstract occurrence, the authors propose a conceptual framework (symbolic interaction), which allows for the characterization of such occurrences and a tool (the “onion” model) that allows for the classification of the elicited tacit knowledge. Originality/value: The study suggests an original framework, which enables the identification and analysis of tacit knowledge in a context that is very common in organizations but is, yet, partially explored – personal interactions. The use of the suggested framework can possibly bridge the gap between unconscious personal learning and knowledge that can be used at the organizational level.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)523-537
Number of pages15
JournalLearning Organization
Issue number6
StatePublished - 12 Nov 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited.


  • Interpersonal interaction
  • Negotiation
  • Symbolic interaction
  • Tacit knowledge

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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