One of the biggest challenges facing human service organizations is the proliferation of information from inside and outside the agency that needs to be managed if it is to be of use. The concepts of tacit and explicit knowledge can inform an approach to this challenge. Tacit knowledge is stored in the minds of practitioners (often called practice wisdom) and the explicit knowledge is often found in organizational procedure manuals and educational and training materials. Building on this perspective, this analysis provides a preliminary definition of research-minded practitioners by explicating the elements of curiosity, critical reflection, and critical thinking. The organizational implications of developing a cadre of research-minded practitioners include the commitment of top management to support “link officers”, evidence request services, research and development units, and service standards. The challenges include the capacity to identify/support research-minded practitioners, promote an organizational culture of evidence-informed practice, redefine staff development and training, redefine job descriptions, and specify the nature of managerial leadership.
March 12, 2012