10 Types of Knowledge: Definitions and Examples

8 min read
Dec 9, 2022

Customers are always looking for answers, and as a customer support specialist, you're the go-to person for providing those answers. But what kind of knowledge do you need to include in your knowledge management strategy in order to be successful? Here are 10 types of knowledge you should have in your help center. With this type of knowledge, you'll be able to provide the best possible support for your customers.

Tacit knowledge

Tacit knowledge is like the Loch Ness Monster of workplace know-how – everyone's heard stories about it, but few have actually seen it!

On the serious side, tacit knowledge refers to know-how that has been acquired through unstructured personal experience. Often this type of knowledge is gained unknowingly during our daily lives, such as from working with teammates on a project. While some of this knowledge can be articulated and codified, much of it remains intangible in our minds… Kind of like the mission impossible hidden files you hear about in movies!

An example of tacit knowledge in business could be a veteran CEO who has spent countless hours learning how to effectively lead and grow their organization. This kind of practical experience can’t be taught from a book or class. It’s only developed by using tacit knowledge – knowing when and how to navigate difficult situations without letting emotions get in the way.

Procedural knowledge

Procedural knowledge is an interesting beast.

It's what we use to get things done - anything from making a great soufflé to spinning up a website. Where declarative knowledge is about storing and remembering information, procedural knowledge is about taking that information and actually doing something with it. So when you have a task, the option isn't just between knowing the right answer or not — you also need to know the right action. Procedural knowledge brings those two together to get results that do more than sit on a shelf – they can be cooked, plumbed, or coded into reality!

A great example of procedural knowledge in business is knowing when it's appropriate to send an email - there are certain conventions that dictate which situations call for an email, and if one follows the rules of procedural knowledge they will rarely have faux pas.

Explicit knowledge

Explicit knowledge is kind of like that friend you have who just blurts out what they’re thinking, no matter how controversial the topic. It’s the kind of knowledge that doesn’t need much explanation, which can make it easier for us to understand and process. That could be helpful if you’re in an unfamiliar field, or it could also mean we don’t always take the time to explore nuances and find a complete understanding. Either way explicit knowledge certainly serves a purpose here and there, just like your outspoken buddy!

Here are some examples of explicit knowledge: FAQs, instructions, raw data and related reports, diagrams, one-sheets, and strategy slide decks.

Propositional knowledge

Propositional knowledge, when it comes to a knowledge base, is the kind of knowledge that comes in the form of statements.

It is said (tongue-in-cheek) to be the primary ingredient for any successful data warehouse. Simply put, propositional knowledge tells us exactly what is true or false about something. The propositional knowledge held in a knowledge base offers precisely stated facts and truths about various things such as people, places, events, and more. It helps machines digest this propositional information easily by encapsulating them within discrete structures. Without propositional knowledge, navigation through a data store would be an arduous task!

An example of procedural knowledge could be procedures explaining how to perform specific tasks, or use certain equipment in an organization.

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A priori knowledge

A priori knowledge can be best described as an innate understanding of the world around us.

A priori knowledge is the kind of information that we just personally know, perhaps even without someone explicitly telling us - think 'you don't need to look it up because you already know it!' A priori knowledge is a valuable resource for any knowledge base, as it informs new trends and encourages thinking outside the box. To put a witty spin on it; A priori knowledge is like the sage wisdom of your grandmother, available at no extra cost!

One of the most explicit examples of a priori knowledge in business is the knowledge that customer satisfaction is key to success. After all, without happy customers, there wouldn't be any customers to begin with. By understanding this fundamental truth early on, businesses can take preemptive steps to ensure service excellence.

Implicit knowledge

Implicit knowledge is like your mysterious distant relative; you don’t know a lot about it, but you know it’s there! In the world of a knowledge base, implicit knowledge refers to the implicit nature of certain pieces of information that can only be accessed through experience or context – to get the kind of implicit knowledge that can truly empower your business decisions and strategies, you need to dig deep into your data and explore beyond the explicit surface level.

Put simply, implicit knowledge is the experience and intuition gained from working day-in and day-out in an industry, using skills, research and insight to make informed decisions.

A posteriori knowledge

Posteriori knowledge is the wise man's choice! It refers to knowledge derived from experience - information gathered from external sources such as sensory data.

Essentially, posteriori knowledge is a way of saying that you can tell something is true because you've seen it or experienced it first hand. This makes posteriori knowledge highly invaluable as it allows us to make judgments and come to conclusions even when we're lacking in crucial facts and data. By relying on our experiences, posteriori knowledge can help us generate insight and garner new understandings about the world around us!

A great example of this is the traditional practice of ‘gut’ decision making. Even when data or statistics are provided, leaders will often act on instinct, which of course can be considered a type of posteriori knowledge. As the old saying goes: sometimes it’s best to trust your gut and experience.

Declarative knowledge

Declarative knowledge is like a warehouse of facts.

Think of declarative knowledge as the information you need to create something, like how an artist needs paints and paper to create paintings. Similarly, declarative knowledge is used in a knowledge base to create a diverse collection of data that can be accessed and utilized. If a person wants art, declarative knowledge won’t do them any good; declarative knowledge stores essential facts for synthesizing useful content in a knowledge base.

For example, declarative knowledge entails an individual understanding the company's goals for the year and it will be assessed.

Empirical knowledge

Empirical knowledge in a knowledge base refers to kind of knowledge that can be determined from experience or observation.

It’s the type of stuff you can’t just look up on Google – what you need is someone with firsthand experience to make sense of it. Whether it’s storing customer testimonials, troubleshooting services and products, or simply having a team readily available to answer users’ questions, empirical knowledge doesn’t just provide answers, but offers insights that deepen understanding. So don’t let empirical knowledge stay hidden; tap into it if you want to succeed!

An example of empirical knowledge in business is the use of analytics to gain insight into consumer buying behavior. By examining sales data, businesses can figure out which products are selling best and adjust their inventory accordingly. They can also look for correlations between sales data and external events that could impact demand for their product or service.

Domain knowledge

Domain knowledge is one of those kinds of knowledge you wish you could put in a bottle - it's that invaluable.

In the context of a knowledge base, domain knowledge can be thought of as the contents of said bottle. In other words, it’s the collected amount of expertise and experience related to a certain domain, such as IT infrastructure or medical services. This essential store of collective wisdom is then used to help teams manage operations, solve problems, develop products and services, and more! Domain knowledge helps us make sense of the world so we can explore and learn like never before.

For example, if you're running an e-commerce store specializing in pet accessories, domain knowledge consists of staying up to date on popular chew toys and the latest leash styles.

Cultural knowledge

Cultural knowledge in a business practically takes the saying "knowledge is power" to a new level. Having cultural knowledge allows businesses both small and large to become more competitive, as it keeps them plugged into current cultural trends and behaviors that are likely to shift consumer behavior.

Cultural knowledge can also be instrumental in helping businesses reach more customers by ensuring their campaigns and other resources reflect cultural understanding. In short, cultural knowledge is catnip for modern businesses looking to stake their claim within an increasingly competitive and ever-changing marketplace.

For example, cultural knowledge has been used to help foster successful negotiations with foreign investors and partners, as well as develop creative marketing strategies that align with the values of various cultural groups.

Imperative knowledge

When it comes to business knowledge, imperative knowledge is essential for success. This includes tax laws, contract negotiation best practices, trade policies and financial analysis techniques. These topics shape the very workings of a business and give it the potential for growth. Without imperative knowledge, businesses risk managing operations blindfolded and ordering outdated products or services. That’s why an imperative knowledge base is vital to any successful venture—to ensure timely decision-making that leads to progress instead of stagnation.

What knowledge do you need?

If you're looking for a tool to store all your knowledge, try using KnowledgeBase. It's an easy to use knowledge base software you can use for building knowledge base for your organization and customers.

Learn more about knowledge management and see you it can help your organization.