SECI model
(Nonaka Takeuchi)

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A unified model of dynamic organizational knowledge creation. Explanation of SECI model of Nonaka and Takeuchi. ('95)

Contributed by: Tom De Geytere


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SECI model Nonaka TakeuchiWhat is the SECI model? Description

Ikujiro Nonaka and Hirotaka Takeuchi propose a model of the knowledge creating process to understand the dynamic nature of knowledge creation, and to manage such a process effectively: the SECI model. It consist of 3 elements:

  1. SECI
  2. Ba
  3. Knowledge Assets

These 3 elements interact with each other organically and dynamically. The knowledge assets of an organization are mobilized and shared in 'Ba' whereas the tacit knowledge held by individuals is converted and amplified by the spiral of knowledge through:

  • Socialization
  • Externalization
  • Combination
  • Internalization

The three elements should be integrated under clear leadership so that the organization can create knowledge continuously and dynamically: it must become a discipline for organizational members.


The creation of knowledge is a continuous process of dynamic interactions between tacit and explicit knowledge. The four modes of knowledge conversion interact in the spiral of knowledge creation. The spiral becomes larger in scale as it moves up through organizational levels, and can trigger new spirals of knowledge creation.
SECO model four categories of Ba
Socialization. Sharing tacit knowledge through face-to-face communication or shared experience. An example is an apprenticeship.
Externalization. Developing concepts, which embed the combined tacit knowledge. And which enable its communication.
Combination. Combination of various elements of explicit knowledge: building a prototype is an example.
Internalization. Closely linked to learning by doing, the explicit knowledge becomes part of the individual's knowledge base (e.g. mental model) and becomes an asset for the organization.


This difficult concept (there is no exact translation of the word) can be defined as a shared context in which knowledge is shared, created and utilized through interaction.

The diagram illustrates the various types of Ba, each offering a context for a specific step in the knowledge-creating process.

Examples of the categories, using Seven-Eleven (Japanese convenience shops):

  • Originating Ba: the shop floor, it enables people to interact with each other and with customers.
  • Dialoguing Ba: the tacit knowledge of local employees is used to create sales forecasts, in dialogue with each other.
  • Systemizing Ba: the forecasts of sales are tested against the sales results and are fed back to the local stores.
  • Exercising Ba: using this information, and comparing it to reality, staff improve their skills and ability to make the forecasts.

Four categories of knowledge assetsKnowledge assets

These are company-specific resources that are indispensable to create values for the firm. They are the inputs, outputs, and moderating factors, of the knowledge-creating process.

To effectively manage knowledge creation and exploitation, a company has to 'map' its inventory of knowledge assets. Cataloguing is however not enough: knowledge assets are dynamic; new knowledge assets can be created from existing knowledge assets.


The role of leadership is illustrated in the next diagram:
SECI - role of leadership

Origin of the SECI model. History

The model from Nonaka and Takeuchi is based on Polanyi's distinction between tacit and explicit knowledge (1983) and provides an understanding of knowledge creation and management from a Japanese business culture perspective.

Strengths of the SECI model. Benefits

  • Appreciates the dynamic nature of knowledge and knowledge creation.
  • Provides a framework for management of the relevant processes.

Limitations of the SECI model. Disadvantages

  • It is based on a study of Japanese organizations, which heavily rely on tacit knowledge: employees are often with a company for life.
  • The linearity of the concept: can the spiral jump steps? Can it go counter-clockwise?

Book: Ikujiro Nonaka, Hirotaka Takeuchi - The Knowledge-Creating Company -

SECI model Forum (16 topics) Help
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  Nonaka's SECI Process versus Peter Senge's Learning Organization
How does Nonaka's SECI process support the Learning Organization?
What is the difference between Peter Senge's Fifth Discipline approach to a learning organization and Nonaka's SECI module?

Linking SECI Model to Innovation

I have some thoughts on how Knowledge Management and Innovation are linked... There are a number of models for implementing innovation. A simple model that I like involves 5 steps:
1. Idea Generation
2. Idea Selection
3. Idea Implement...

(How) Does the SECI Model Work in Western Cultures?

The SECI concept was developed (and works extremely well) for Japanese businesses (culture). I would be interested in how it is applied in Japan.
I believe it will not work well in western cultures that have a hierarchical approach to management...

What is the Best Way to Transfer Tacit Knowledge?

In my opinion, the SECI model is essence of knowledge management. With this model, we can grow to complex models creating complementary models and support tools.
The greater doubt is: what is the best way for transfering tacit knowledge?...

SECI Software Tools?

Hi Everybody. I am looking for a software solution to support a SECI implementation.
Does anybody has a software product in mind? One based on SECI model?
Best regards......

History of Knowledge Management

I found that other models and concepts came after SECI model. Referring to history,
- "Since 1975, the knowledge management (KM) related developments have been the emerging subject in organizations" (Wigg, 1997).
- The momentum in knowled...

Commonality of SECI Model

Is the SECI model the most used knowledge management model? Or, at least, the most 'adapted' one?...

Advantages Disadvantages Between SECI Model and Other Models

What are the main advantages/disadvantages (and other main differences) between SECI model and other models?...

SECI for Integration between eTOM and KM System

The SECI model has been implemented in many industries. Telecom industry has eTOM as business process framework with critical knowledge in each level of processes. It needs specific effort to integrate SECI with eTOM dealing with three different pr...

SECI Model as a tool for developing an effective teaching pedagogy.

My paper entitled "effects of mountain climbing learning analogy in the achievement and attitudes of university freshmen in mathematics" proved that this model, despite developed as an organizational knowledge creation process (for businesses), that ...

Capturing Experiences

The best model of capturing data from those who posses experience/s. Sadly overlooked by Commercial & Research entities. e.g Ayurveda, Arts etc. ...

SECI is a knowledge management process

The SECI model can be easily appreciated as a KM process comprising (1) harnessing existing and creating new knowledge through the SECI process (2) implemented at forum(s) like shop floors/offices providing environment and incentive to share knowledg...

The Meaning of the Japanese Word Ba

I need a bit more on "Ba". Is this word coming from Japanese? And if, yes, is it written with which kanji for "ba"? (場?)...

Implementing SECI in an Organization

Can anyone explain how an implementation of SECI works and plz explain with an example? Thanks...

Recognition SECI Model

I believe the SECI Model developed by Nonaka and Takeuchi has come to be the most recognised and accepted model of knowledge transfer all over the world. It is precise, clear and simple to understand.... That's what a good model should be like......

Relevant for Knowledge Management

I found this article very interesting for my course work...
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Compare with the SECI model: Bridging Epistemologies  |  Organizational Learning  |  Organizational Memory  |  Action Learning  |  Knowledge Management (Collison & Parcell)

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