Tacit Knowledge Transfer in Family Firms During Generational Succession
Keywords:Tacit Knowledge, family firms, generational succession
It is widely recognized that generational succession is one of the main problems to be faced by family
firms with important implications for their long-term survival. The generational succession represents a critical phase in the life cycle of family firms, where in most cases the entrepreneur-founder is the pivot around which the company's success was built. In fact, empirical studies show that this phase is the most delicate, with a large percentage of companies facing serious difficulties in this process of change, so that they compromise the same "state of health" of the firm. Several aspects contribute to this process, for example more intangible aspects linked to the wealth of knowledge and skills of the entrepreneur, on which perhaps during the time the family firm has built its own competitive advantage. One of the major obstacles to be faced in the generational succession is inherent with the difficulty of preserving, developing and transferring knowledge from the entrepreneur to the successor. According to the Knowledge Management model of Nonaka and Takeuchi, knowledge is distinguished between explicit and tacit. While explicit knowledge is more easily transferable, tacit
knowledge referring to the experience encounters greater difficulties in its transfer. Therefore, this contribution is proposed by analyzing as case studies three companies present on the Italian territory that are experiencing the generational transition, to understand and compare the tools (observation, participation, etc.) that the entrepreneur uses to transfer own tacit knowledge to the successor as fundamental elements for survival and development of businesses.
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