Purpose: This paper examines the relationship between the tacit knowledge held by learning and development professionals and performance measurement regimes of post-modern organisations.
Design/methodology/approach: Drawing on Polanyi’s (1958; 1968) influential ideas about tacit knowledge and Lyotard’s (1984) theory of performativity with regard to criteria such as profit-performance, it assesses the applicability and relevance of tacit, working knowledge in the internet age to the daily working lives of industry training and development personnel. A central question for the study is whether such professionals can still tap into and use their tacit know-how without having it reduced by contemporary performance-oriented regimes of “knowledge”.
Findings: It is argued that there is a powerful interaction between tacit knowledge and narratively produced performance regimes – which are now supported by digital-age technologies including developments in artificial intelligence (AI). It has also been argued that fostering organisational environments that encourage open communication and allow a role for critique remains vital.
Research limitations/implications: With systems of knowledge production including AI at the point of potentially overriding human decision-making processes, more research is required into possible implications of uploading workers’ tacit, working knowledge in different contexts and ways to foster open communication and critique in organisations.
Originality/value: The overt linking of classic theories – Polanyi and Lyotard –and applying these to contemporary (digital-age) training and development contexts is original.