The role of SHRM in turning tacit knowledge into explicit knowledge: a cross-national study of the UK and Malta

Judith W. Scully, Sandra C. Buttigieg, Alexis Fullard, Duncan Shaw, Mike Gregson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We propose that strategic human resource management (SHRM) practices nurture a context of knowledge sharing where tacit knowledge can be turned into explicit knowledge and that this type of knowledge sharing promotes innovative behaviours. We draw on the fields of knowledge management and international human resource management to show why organisations need to turn tacit knowledge into explicit knowledge to gain most from their workforce skills and creativity. Findings from a couple of cross-national case studies show how SHRM promotes employees to interact and share knowledge so that there is a conversion of tacit knowledge to explicit knowledge that informs innovative behaviour. In Case Study 1, the focus is on a UK local authority that implemented a bundle of SHRM practices through a people management programme, which resulted in a flattened management structure. In Case Study 2, the focus is on a geriatric hospital in Malta that introduced a management presence to an interdisciplinary team working to improve patient care. The analysis also highlights the methodological contribution of qualitative research for enabling inductive enquiry that yields emergent themes - an approach not typically seen in SHRM innovation studies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2299-2320
Number of pages22
JournalInternational Journal of Human Resource Management
Issue number12
Early online date20 May 2013
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2013


  • explicit knowledge
  • tacit knowledge
  • strategic human resource management
  • innovative behaviour


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