Defining Knowledge Work LO29612

From: jwy100 (
Date: 11/30/02


I'm a student at the University of York, England and was wondering if you
would share your opinions with me. I apologise for the length of this
email but it is necessary to get all of my ideas across.

My final year dissertation is on Knowledge Work, you may be familiar with
this term but if not here are some definitions that may help:

In business terms knowledge is a resource, it is what the business knows
about its products, working methods, technology, customers, competitors
and the wider business environment. This can be knowledge inside
employee's minds or stored in paper form in filing cabinets or stored in
electronic form in a database.

In order to manage and share this knowledge, businesses need some kind of
Knowledge Management. This may be in the form of systems or procedures
that give better access to knowledge to aid learning and innovation.
Knowledge can give a business a competitive advantage, so any way of
efficiently storing and retrieving this knowledge will aid progress.

Knowledge Work is any activity undertaken to increase the amount of
knowledge that a person or company has. This can include all types of
research that captures, stores and uses knowledge to lead to new products
and processes or innovation.

Knowledge Workers capture information, and use, evaluate and manipulate it
to turn it into useful knowledge to aid in the progress of the business.

Here is a quote from Peter Drucker (a management guru)

"Knowledge and service workers range from research scientists and cardiac
surgeons through draftswomen and store managers to 16 year olds who flip
hamburgers in fast food restaurants on Saturday afternoons. Their ranks
also include people whose work makes them "machine operators":
dishwashers, janitors, data entry operators"

Do you agree with this?

For my dissertation I am investigating different people's views, ideas and
opinions of Knowledge Work and Knowledge Workers, especially what people
think these terms means. If you have any thoughts on this I will be happy
to discuss them with you. I am basing my research on three countries -
Britain, Spain and Latin America. , however no matter what nationality all
feedback will be very useful. I have chosen Spanish-speaking countries
because I have a strong interest in them and have learnt the language for
several years.

I am researching how the culture, economy and history of a country affect
each country's definition and levels of adoption of Knowledge Work, my
theory is that Knowledge Work is culturally defined. Any thoughts or ideas
you have on this will be very helpful.

If you know anyone that may be interested in helping me with this research
please could let me know. I will need to 'network' in order to find
contacts in each country to elicit their opinions.

If you are interested in this here is an article arguing some definitions
of Knowledge Work and showing that there is little consensus: Do you agree with or have thoughts on
this article?

The purpose of my project is to help people understand the differences
between developed and developing countries and how cultural, language,
economic and historical factors can effect a country's adoption of work
practices. For example, language, types of government rule and the
topography of a country may explain why some countries are more advanced
than others. For example, Latin America has had long periods of harsh
dictatorship, which resulted in repression and made standards of living
more difficult. As people have lived with these circumstances for some
time they may not share their feelings and ideas with others as freely as
in a democratic environment. Knowledge sharing is key to Knowledge Work as
this allows a company to progress with innovation and new ideas. Moreover,
world debt may mean that Knowledge Work is not being considered to a great
extent as there are other pressing matters to deal with first.

The economic climate of a country may explain why some countries define
Knowledge Work different to others. For example, a country whose main
economy is agriculture may define Knowledge Workers as being workers in
this sector, whereas a services intense economy may regard Knowledge
Workers as being more to do with businesses and consultancies.

I hope that readers of my project will become more aware of these cultural
differences and understand how they affect a country's present situation
with regard to Knowledge Work. If you are interested in my dissertation I
will be happy to post a copy to this group. Also if you have any questions
I will try to answer them as best I can.

Many thanks



jwy100 <>

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