The role of aesthetic reasoning in knowledge management: the case of elegant systems architecture design

Luca Iandoli, Alejandro Salado, Giuseppe Zollo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Nonaka and Takeuchi foundational work brought tacit knowledge to the attention of the Knowledge Management (KM) community. During the same years, research in cognitive science was offering new insights on how tacit knowledge operates by highlighting the role of visual perception and aesthetic appreciation. Despite these developments, the relationship between tacit knowledge and aesthetics has received scarce attention in KM literature. Drawing from studies in Neuro-Aesthetics, Gestalt psychology, Art critique and Design, we focus on the relationship between aesthetics and ambiguity resolution and adopt as empirical unit engineering systems representations. We show that more effective system representations can be achieved through the application of a set of aesthetic principles supporting the achievement of an optimal level of complexity in the representation (effective complexity). The empirical findings provide evidence that more aesthetically pleasant system representations built following this approach leads to the design of both more elegant and performant systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)93-109
Number of pages17
JournalKnowledge Management Research and Practice
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • System architecture
  • aesthetics
  • art
  • design
  • effective complexity
  • problem solving
  • tacit knowledge

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Management Information Systems
  • Business and International Management
  • Strategy and Management
  • Management Science and Operations Research
  • Library and Information Sciences
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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