Purdue University Graduate School
Priyansh_MS-Thesis_Spring 2020.pdf (2.05 MB)

Reliance Of The Field Supervisors On Experience-Based Tacit Knowledge And Barriers To Knowledge Sharing

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posted on 2020-04-17, 01:54 authored by Priyansh DograPriyansh Dogra

Generally, the trade supervisors are seen swapping stories about how they have done things differently in their previous projects that had resulted in saving man-hours and resources. Since most of them are doing repetitive tasks for years, they rely mainly on their judgments and intuition while making decisions and have developed a plethora of knowledge throughout their experience. They often find it difficult to articulate the knowledge they have acquired most of which is tacit. There is a need to identify this tacit dimension of knowledge to harness it effectively as tacit knowledge is one of the factors determining the competitiveness of a construction firm. The skills shortage in the industry is further aggravated by the growing workforce. Employee retirements and knowledge loss are compelling the specialty contracting firms to capture this tacit knowledge to prepare the future workforce. This study posits an instrument to gauge the reliance of the field supervisors on tacit knowledge and identifies barriers to knowledge sharing through case studies involving electrical contracting firms. The findings of this research clearly show that the experience level of an individual is related to the reliance on tacit knowledge. Most of the experienced field supervisors rely on the tacit dimension of knowledge to perform the major day-to-day routine tasks at the construction site. The education level of an individual seems to have no significant relation with the acquisition and usage of tacit knowledge. Findings also suggest that the viewpoint of the management and the field team are disparate regarding the barriers to knowledge sharing. Management feels that lack of formal processes prevents the trade professionals from sharing their knowledge among themselves whereas according to the field team lack of socialization is identified as the key barrier. Similarly, managers' resistance to change is identified by management as the key barrier that prevents supervisors or managers from sharing their knowledge with the subordinates whereas, for the field team it is the lack of encouragement from the management. Moreover, according to management, lack of formal processes is the key barrier at the organizational level but for the field team, it’s the silo mentality of the managers. The organizations must incorporate the feedback from the field team into the decision making related to knowledge management (KM). The developed framework will benefit the trade contractors to identify on what type of knowledge the field supervisors are relying to perform a particular task and eventually categorizing knowledge into explicit and tacit.


ELECTRI International


Degree Type

  • Master of Science


  • Construction Management Technology

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Dr. Anthony E. Sparkling

Additional Committee Member 2

Dr. Emad Elwakil

Additional Committee Member 3

Dr. Randy Rapp