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The knowledge externalization phase involves acquiring and transferring the knowledge of individuals to an abstract and effective representation, to organize it, to model it and finally to express this knowledge in an understandable and reusable format. This phase presents some difficulties at the moment to choose the technique that best fit with the knowledge type to be elicited, and sometimes the selected technique is not complete enough to capture all the relevant knowledge for a specific domain. In sum, there are not mechanisms that can be used as a discernment element at the moment to choose the knowledge elicitation technique that better adjust to a particular situation. This paper presents the results obtained from an empirical validation developed to determine the efficiency of knowledge acquisition in the externalization phase of Nonaka's model, using a set of software engineering elicitation techniques. Efficiency compared with quality of the knowledge acquired can provide a good mechanism to select the most suitable technique to knowledge externalization for each situation. (C) 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.