Purpose - The purpose of this research is to explore a concept of the management of professionals that can withstand critical questioning. Design/methodology/approach - A case study is analysed with use of key concepts from Polanyi. Findings - The instrumental approach to knowledge, so frequently used in knowledge management, neglects important issues. The conventional question: "How should we organize knowledge?" neglects the question: "How should knowledge impact organization?". With use of Polanyi's concept of knowledge, a richer interdependency between knowledge and organization can be conceived. Findings were drawn from an ethnographic case study in the IT sector to illustrate how professionals can successfully negotiate the content, meaning and development of their tasks and practices. The attempt to create a safe haven, supporting professional and personal development, illustrates how the tacit dimension has emancipatory potential. Originality/value - Contributes to clarifying the richness of Polanyi's social thought and the uses of the concept of the "tacit" to organization when it is not functionally misunderstood but appreciated in its full critical force.