Tacit and theoretical knowledge in skill development

Term Paper (Advanced seminar), 2016

13 Pages, Grade: 1,0




Based on the Preface and Chapter 1 in „The Practical Intellect“ by Bo Göranzon (2009)

Based on Chapter 2 in „The Practical Intellect“ by Bo Göranzon (2009)

Based on “Tacit knowledge and risks“ by Bo Göranzon (2007)

Based on “The dream of the exact language”“ by Bo Göranzon (1993)

Based on “Literature, Language and Learning: Turing’s Paradox and the Metaphor of Caliban” by Bo Göranzon (2009)

Based on “Is the Computer a Tool?” by Bo Göranzon (2009)

How the introduction of formal systems may eventually limit the field of view in a skill
What does professional knowledge consist of?
What is the purpose of a computer?
Certainty and dialogue



This is a collection of reports that were handed in during the seminar “Skills and Technology”. The seminar is based on „The practical Intellect“ by Bo Göranzon (2009). For each seminar the chapters of the book are read chronologically and then reflected and commented in an academic paper.

The course describes the topics of tacit knowledge, the introduction to the area of Skill and Technology, make distinctions between rules and the following of rules, between the abstract and the concrete, and problems and dilemmas in society from the perspective of professional skill

Based on the Preface and Chapter 1 in „The Practical Intellect“ by Bo Göranzon (2009)

This paper reflects on the Preface and first Chapter “Understanding Work and Knowledge in The computer Age” and “Computers and Knowledge” in the Practical Intellect by Bo Göranzon (2009).

Allan Janik who wrote the preface starts talking about the revolutionary science as the Practical Intellect sheds a new light on the role of technology in society. What differentiates the Practical Intellect from previous research is that it observes in the field and does not judge “from above”.

On the one hand it is discussed how computerization would improve and ease work processes, allowing to spend the saved time on other subjects that need more intellectual capacity and cannot be solved by a computer. However it is not as simple as it sounds. To make the computer efficient the system needs to be provided with sufficient data that exactly specifies the outcomes so that they are useful to work with.

The cost and effort - be it time here, to understand the computer system and be able to set it up correctly and then work with it is quite big in the beginning. Uncertainty about whether this investment in the beginning will pay off later on can lead to people avoiding to use computers and continue in their old paths.

Nowadays computers are everywhere and it is unthinkable to work or live without them. However, I can relate to the avoidance of investing so much time in the beginning of learning something new, that I might not continue to use in 1 year. For example when learning a new computer program I don’t like to read the manual and have try-and-error-approach. This can take quite a lot of time to come to a sufficient result. Nevertheless I feel that I learn more from learning while doing than consuming theory first and then applying it in practice. Therefore is it really true that the computer eases our ways of working? Sometimes it feels it takes more time and is more complicated – at least in the beginning. And is it really true that we spend the time a computer saves on tasks that require me as a human? I believe computers have made working faster and more efficient as e.g. complex calculations can be done errorfree and faster by a computer. Still, I can see that the computer takes away a lot of social skills that are important to work together. Instead of talking with each other people today sit behind their screen sending messages through a chat. For me the computer is an enabler, but cannot replace humans and humans need to understand what the computer is doing for them to be able to use it. Maybe today we are taught so much with the computer and are surrounded by technology that what was lacking in school 15 years ago – lessons about computerization, has become too dominant. Now it might be more helpful to teach social skills to avoid the development of lack of social interaction that computers are causing.

Based on Chapter 2 in „The Practical Intellect“ by Bo Göranzon (2009)

This paper reflects on the second Chapter “Understanding Work and Knowledge in The computer Age” and “Computers and Knowledge” in the Practical Intellect by Bo Göranzon.

The first thought that came to my mind when I read that the forest workers were unwilling to use computers is a personal experience I made. When the personal checkout systems were introduced at Ikea in Germany where customers scan and pay their goods themselves, customers refused to use them. When I was queuing to pay for the products I wanted to buy, I was surprised no one used the self-service check out. People build long queues at the ordinary cashiers and started discussions in the queue such as “ I will not use the self-service it eliminates jobs!”. Today I can see people using both self-service and cashier.

I have witnessed that people often react to the unknown by skepticism and rejection.

When computers were first introduced, people feared to lose their jobs and be replaced of computers. Today we know that a computer is an enabler, but cannot replace the human mind. There is still someone needed who takes decisions and can evaluate the output of a computer. Surely computers made work processes more efficient, with fewer mistakes and gave our work life a new speed. Nevertheless, the computer is just a processor of the input we give it. It will never be smart in a human way or be able to capture and process emotions or behaviors.

I believe it is important to understand the task yourself with your own intellect before applying this knowledge on a computer. Only by understanding the mechanisms and processes of a for example calculation, one is able to interpret a computers output of a calculation and create an analytical mindset.

Nowadays it is unthinkable to work with a computer and I surely don’t want to miss it. However, I feel that it is sometimes overused or not used in an efficient way. An example is to take notes or make quick sketches to remember something. It is much faster to scribble it on a paper than building a graphic in a computer program. I believe we should question the computers abilities more and trust our own intellectual capacities more. For me a computer is a tool, helper, enabler, but nothing more.

Based on “Tacit knowledge and risks“ by Bo Göranzon (2007)

The article describes three different kinds of knowledge: the theoretical knowledge, experience based knowledge and tacit knowledge. All of them play an integral part in our live. Only by acknowledging all of them can we be successful in what we do and progress.

There are simple examples like baking a cake. The theoretical knowledge would be the knowledge acquired by reading the recipe, experienced based knowledge would be how to treat the dough in practice and the tacit knowledge might be some knowledge that we gained by observation. Without the theory we wouldn’t know how much of the ingredients we would need. Without practical knowledge we could bake a cake according to the recipe, but this might not be a tasteful cake. Our oven might be different from the recipe creator’s oven or our mixer, therefore we would need to deviate from the recipe to get a good result. The tacit knowledge would help us to know this deviation and naturally pick the right instruments to bake the cake.

The example shows how important the interaction of different kinds of knowledge is. I guess that the more experienced one grows the less important becomes the theory as consciously perceived theory. The more experienced someone becomes in a task, the more the theory fades into tacit knowledge. In the cake example this can be that the baker will no longer need the recipe, but knows it by heart. Sometimes theory does not work as proposed in practice and needs adaption which also leads to the perception that theory becomes less relevant in the process of application. However it is much needed as a starting point and rule book when uncertainty leaves us indecisive. Rosseau claims that theory only makes sense with the backup of experience and creates chaos otherwise. This can be translated to that a recipe is not understandable if there is no knowledge of measurement units or ingredients. Theory presumes some experience we can relate to as much as experience presumes theoretical and tacit knowledge. All three kinds of knowledge interlink like a cogwheel and cannot work to its highest potential when isolated.


Excerpt out of 13 pages


Tacit and theoretical knowledge in skill development
Linnaeus University  (School of Economics)
Skills and Technology
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
File size
520 KB
tacit knowledge, practical, Praxis, Theorie, theory, intellect, Bo Göranzon, skill, technology, digitalization, abstract, concrete, society
Quote paper
Anna Lena Bischoff (Author), 2016, Tacit and theoretical knowledge in skill development, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/336940


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