The Theory of Knowledge Creation generally suggests that tacit and explicit knowledge are converted through the four modes known as the SECI Model (Nonaka 1991; Nonaka & Takeuchi 1995). In applications development, the knowledge conversions are mobilized through the use of tools (video conference, development editor) and practices (code review, design patterns, pair programming) (Henninger 1997; Avram 2007). However, the model is criticized for having strong Japanese cultural influence and little empirical basis in practice resulting in several debates on its applicability, existence/non-existence of the SECI cycle and unidirectional/multidirectional property of the conversions (Gourlay 2003; Rice & Rice 2005; Hong 2010).

Therefore, we studied how tacit and explicit knowledge are converted (tacit-tacit, tacit-explicit, explicit-explicit, and explicit-tacit) in an empirical setting and explored what the implications are within the context of applications development using the Theory of Knowledge Creation’s SECI Model. We did this by immersion in a non-Japanese organization where applications development tools and practices were employed. Interviews, document reviews, and observations were used as primary data gathering techniques, which consequently required qualitative study analysis, specifically phenomenological, and discourse analysis techniques.