Assessing non-technical methods for transferring tacit knowledge in safety-critical systems: a study on maritime pilot training
Paper in proceeding, 2022

A safety-critical system is a system whose failure or malfunction will have serious consequences and typically include, healthcare, aerospace, naval operations, nuclear or process industries, and military systems. Safety-critical systems also show a high level of automation and are to a high degree dependent on tacit knowledge embedded within the workforce. It is important to an organization to find methods to manage tacit knowledge transfer and thereby establishing resilience over time. Maritime pilotage is a safety-critical segment of the maritime industry to assure safe, economic, and sustainable naval operations. During the maritime pilot training the maritime pilot student acquires trade specific skills, often in the shape of tacit knowledge, primarily when interacting with other more experienced maritime pilots. The purpose of this study is to improve the maritime pilot training to mitigate increasing requirements of safe, economical, and environmentally sustainable shipping operations. The aim of the study was to locate, catch, crystallise, document, and describe non-technical methods of tacit knowledge transfer during the different elements of the maritime pilot training. This study is a mixed-method study, based on observations, interviews, questionnaires, and document analysis. In total, 21 participants were included in the study, consisting of maritime pilot students, less experienced but licensed maritime pilots, and highly experienced master maritime pilots. The results show that a substantial amount of tacit knowledge transfer occurs during on-the-job activities. Such activities are predominantly taking place in social settings and are not consistently documented or systematically utilized within the organization.

Tacit knowledge

Maritime pilot.

Implicit knowledge

Maritime education and training


Rikard Eklund

Chalmers, Industrial and Materials Science, Design & Human Factors

Anna-Lisa Osvalder

Chalmers, Industrial and Materials Science, Design & Human Factors

INTED 2022 Proceedings

Vol. V-224-2022 9908-9914
978-84-09-37758-9 (ISBN)

16th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Online, ,

Subject Categories


Production Engineering, Human Work Science and Ergonomics


Social Sciences Interdisciplinary

Other Engineering and Technologies not elsewhere specified

Pedagogical Work

Areas of Advance


Learning and teaching

Pedagogical work



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