tacit vs. explicit theories: the impact on our thinking and 'theorizing'

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In 'response' to Theories informing my research, I would like to bring to attention another issue of concern regarding the empowering or restrictive properties the tacit and explicit theories have on individual's way of thinking and research.

Sooner or later many of us are guided by set of theories, frameworks and paradigms in our research work, some of them tacit and some explicit. They direct our research within the appropriate and relevant scholarly community, thus increasing the chances for scholarly collaboration and communication with like-minded folks.

However, the same theories, paradigms and frameworks also limit our imagination and innovative thinking, they create the box within which we think and operate. Thus, they can have potentially negative effect by filtering away problems and issues that merit scholarly scrutiny but are not scrutinized because our mode of thinking does not allow them to reach us.

In this sense, the explicit theories and frameworks we subscribe to are perhaps less inhibitive to our abilities to explore and innovate beyond our current interests. We are well aware of the explicit theories, we use them to conduct our research, and we can decide to go beyond.

The tacit theories seem to be more inhibitive than the explicit. Because of their tacit nature they direct our research in a way we might not be aware and thus do not know how to go beyond and expand our mode of thinking.

Certainly, there is a benefit in structured way of thinking and research; its awareness helps us position ourselves and our work within the relevant communities of practice. However, often a times the excessive structureness in our way of thinking might be depriving us of the ability to see various phenomena with a new 'eye'.

How does one go about identifying and discovering his/her tacit theories, frameworks and paradigms?

(Originally published Nov 18, 2004)

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In this sense, the explicit theories and frameworks we subscribe to are perhaps less inhibitive to our abilities to explore and innovate beyond our current interests. We are well aware of the explicit theories, we use them to conduct our research, and we can decide to go beyond.
David From Causes Of Divorce Blog.

A mixture of both structured thinking and innovative thinking is the best way to research. You are right that structured thinking can prevent the us seeing things from a new perspective. That is where you need to lay of the conventional methods and do something to free your mind. In times like this, doing things completely unrelated to the research can help. Like going to the beach, or indulging in your favorite avocation.

Kevin
How To Win Your Ex Back

By Mentor Cana, PhD
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email: mcana {[at]} kmentor {[dot]} com

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This page contains a single entry by Mentor Cana published on June 10, 2008 8:45 PM.

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