KNOWLEDGE WORK IN GENERAL The purpose of this report is to provide different perspectives to knowledge work. Report provides several definitions about: knowledge, knowledge work and knowledge worker. Also knowledge work productivity and productivity measurement is examined. The chapter basis on the literature study which was made in fall 2003.
1 APPROACHES TO KNOWLEDGE
Knowledge can be defined in many ways. Usually knowledge is separated to subcategories in which knowledge has specific characteristics. In this chapter three different approaches and different ways to define knowledge are presented.
1.1TACIT AND EXPLICIT KNOWLEDGE (NONAKA) Nonaka (1994) adopts a definition of knowledge as “justified true belief.” According to Nonaka it is important to consider knowledge as a personal “belief” and emphasize the importance of the “justification” of knowledge. In the theory of knowledge creation the knowledge creation is seen as a dynamic human process of justifying personal beliefs as part of an aspiration for the “truth.” Although the terms “information” and “knowledge” are often used interchangeably, there is a clear distinction between information and knowledge. Information is a flow of messages, while knowledge is created and organized by the very flow of information, anchored on the commitment and beliefs of its holder. This understanding emphasizes an essential aspect of knowledge that relates to human action. (Nonaka, 1994. 15)
Nonaka distinguishes knowledge to tacit and explicit knowledge. Explicit knowledge refers to knowledge that is transmittable in formal, systematic language. Tacit knowledge has a personal quality, which makes it hard to formalize and communicate. Tacit knowledge is deeply rooted in action, commitment, and involvement in a specific context. Tacit knowledge involves both cognitive and technical elements. Cognitive elements, in other words, mental models include schemata, paradigms, beliefs, and viewpoints that provide “perspectives” that help individuals to perceive and define their world. Mental models help human beings to create and manipulate analogies in their minds. By contrast, the technical element of tacit knowledge covers concrete know-how, crafts, and skills that apply to specific context. (Nonaka, 1994. 16)
Nonaka provides definitions about knowledge and knowledge creation. He does not handle knowledge work. Tacit knowledge can be divided to general and specific. Mental models can be