Q. What is the Knowledge Insights Inventory?

A. The Knowledge Insights Inventory is a scientifically developed inventory and benchmark report product that provides an organisation with a valid and reliable measure of tacit knowledge readiness. Tacit knowledge readiness focuses on how effectively organisations create the environment and have employees with the attributes to share, seek, assess and capture tacit knowledge. We define tacit knowledge as know-how, insights and ‘expertise’ derived from experience. It is personal knowledge and organisations rely on the ability, motivation and opportunity of employees to contribute and utilise tacit knowledge. Tacit knowledge if effectively utilised will make a synergistic contribution to organisational performance.

We developed the inventory to address a complex organisational paradox. On the one hand, organisations do not sufficiently capitalise on the large amounts of tacit knowledge that resides with employees in organisations. On the other hand, tacit knowledge is sticky and it is very difficult to capture utilising formal Knowledge Management Systems.  Therefore, we start from the position that employees share, seek, access and capture tacit knowledge where they possess the ability, motivation and have the opportunity to engage in behaviours that facilitate sharing, seeking, accessing and capturing behaviours.

The inventory, based on self and 360 assessments of tacit knowledge readiness is in the second phase of development.  It will typically be used as a single respondent survey however; it can also be used as a 360 process where multiple perspectives on tacit knowledge readiness are assessed. The inventory has application at the level of the organisation, division, business unit, team/work group and/ or individual employee. The inventory includes customization features and a ‘sandpit’ question where we can report employees’ qualitative perceptions of tacit knowledge readiness.


Q. How was the Knowledge Insights Inventory developed?

A. For almost five years, a research team at the University of Limerick has been working on the development of the inventory. This development process has involved collaboration with industry partners. This project is funded by Enterprise Ireland with involvement from the Irish Centre for Manufacturing Research. The Knowledge Insights Inventory has evolved through a number of key stages of development. The research team started with an initial scoping of the core dimensions of tacit knowledge and the conceptual definition of these dimensions. We followed with a major search of the academic and practitioner literature to investigate how these dimensions were operationalised and measured and to ascertain whether such an inventory already existed. We found that there is recognition that tacit knowledge is a complex issue in organisations and traditionally organisations   attempt to codify it. These codification efforts invariably have had limited success due to the stickiness of tacit knowledge and the fact that it resides with individuals.

The next phase of the development process involved the development of measures to assess four dimensions of tacit knowledge readiness:
Sharing IconSHARING:  the sharing of tacit knowledge among employees to help the development of solutions to complex work problems.


Seeking IconSEEKING: the behaviour of employees to seek out tacit knowledge from experienced employees where they lacked the tacit knowledge to solve work problems


Accessing IconACCESSING:  the extent to which various characteristics of an organisation facilitate or hinder access to tacit knowledge.


Capturing IconCAPTURING:  the ability, behaviour and opportunity of employees to capture tacit knowledge and incorporate it into work routines.


Once we developed these measures, we administered an initial validation survey within 9 MNCs with a sample of 1400 respondents to test both the validity and reliability of each measure. We initially started out with an inventory consisting of 270 items or questions. The valuation process resulted in the selection of the most statistically significant items resulting in a reduced inventory consisting of 90 items.

We are now about to launch the next stage of the validation process and require the participation of different types of organisations including public, semi-state, SMEs and international divisions of MNCs. Our target is to generate a sample of 5000-10000 responses. This size of sample will provide a strong foundation to conduct further validation and bring the Knowledge Insights Inventory to a point where it can be commercialised.

Q. What added-value contribution will the Knowledge Insights Inventory make to client organisations?

A. The fully developed and commercialized Knowledge Insights Inventory will provide organisations with scientifically validated, normed and benchmarked data on how the organisation as a whole, a division, work unit, team or individual is tacit knowledge ready. The report tool will have the capacity to perform the following analysis tasks;

  1. The generation of a high level Readiness Report that provides a temperature check of tacit knowledge readiness within the organisation, division, team or individuals.
  2. The generation of a more detailed report that provides comparisons across business units, teams or individuals and benchmarks these scores against scientifically developed norms for organisation types, sectors and job types.
  3. The generation of matched actions that align with the key data generated from the Knowledge Insights Inventory and recommendations on how to implement them.
  4. The detailed analysis of the ‘ Sandpit’ question feature to identify underlying themes and issues.
  5. The provision of consultancy support and facilitation to help organisations work through the Knowledge Insights Inventory
  6. The preparation of ‘Best Practice’ Reports for clients highlighting the tacit knowledge readiness practiced that best deliver performance and organisational effectiveness.


 Q. How will the Knowledge Insights Inventory be administered?

A. The fully developed Knowledge Insights Inventory will operate through a Web link to Survey Monkey or a similar data-gathering tool. Once agreement is reached with a client about the type of service required and the number of respondents a link will be sent to each respondent. These responses with be confidential in the case of organisation, division, work unit and team assessments. The focus of the report generated will be on the aggregation and norming of these responses. In the case of individual self-reports or 360 type assessments we will ask participants to indicate their relationship to the focal person.  For the purposes of this phase of development, we will ask responding organisations to provide us with access to a sample of employees. We will then discuss how best to send the survey link to respondents.


Q.How will we bypass firewalls?

A. We will provide the domain name from which each employee will receive an email, for example “”. That way, your IT department has advance notice and can treat the email as ‘friendly fire’ rather than spam.

Q. Where will the data be stored and is it a secure location?

A.The data will be stored on a secure server in the University of Limerick.

Q. How many questions are there and how long will it take to complete?

A. 90 questions and it will take between 10 and 15 minutes to complete.

Q. Can the Knowledge Insights Inventory be customised to my particular organisation’s needs?A. Minor customisation can be accommodated as part of this validation phase, however we will offer a full customisation service to clients when the Knowledge Insights Inventory is commercialised.

Q. What kind of reports will we receive?

A. As part of this validation phase you will receive an Organisation-level report. First it will provide participating organisations with an overview of how they perform on the four tacit knowledge readiness dimensions. Second, it will provide feedback on five organisational characteristics: capacity to absorb knowledge, supportive learning culture, teamwork, organisational trust and relationships that contribute to tacit knowledge readiness. Third, it will provide feedback on three employee characteristics: confidence to share and seek tacit knowledge, intention and attitude to seek and share and personal capacity tacit knowledge.

As part of our full commercial offering, we will provide division, department, team and/or individual-level reports that are scientifically norm referenced to reflect global and sectoral norms.

Q. Does the report make recommendations to rectify the issues identified?

A. Yes, the report will identify barriers to knowledge flow within the organisation and will make some recommendations to rectify the issues. The report will also highlight factors that facilitate tacit knowledge readiness and should be strengthened and continued.

Q. Can our results be benchmarked against industry participants?

A. Initially your results can be benchmarked against the 5000+ respondents who are part of the validation phase. Your participation will enable us to build a normative database. Once that is completed, we can report on how your organisation compares with industry-level and overall norms. An important part of this validation phase will focus on the development of norms using a rigorous statistical methodology.

Q. How much will the Knowledge Insights Inventory eventually cost?

A. There will be no cost to participating organisations during the validation phase. However, we envisage that our final commercial proposition will consist of a number of commercial propositions. Preliminary market research indicates a cost of €5-10 per survey. This compares very favorably with other industry players who charge between €15 and €35 per survey (examples; Gallup charge €15 per survey, Sirota €30, Decision Wise €35). We will negotiate commercial propositions with clients depending on the scope of the assignment.