2 KNOWLEDGE WORK AND KNOWLEDGE WORKERS
Knowledge work and knowledge workers can be defined in many ways. In this chapter several different ways to define knowledge work and workers are presented.
2.1KNOWLEDGE WORK DEFINITIONS Bereiter (2002) defines knowledge work:
Knowledge work belongs to the same class as metal work, woodworking, leather work, and personnel work expect that object worked with are abstract: they are conceptual artifacts. (Bereiter, 2002. chapter 6)
Conceptual may be understood to refer to discussible ideas, ranging from theories, designs, and plans down to concepts, like unemployment and gravity. Artifact conveys that these are human creations and that they are created to some purpose. However, being conceptual, they are not concrete artifacts. Conceptual artifacts share many of the characteristics of material artifacts. Consider the concept of natural selection and how it compares to a material artifact like an automobile: They both have origins and histories. They can be described. They can be compared with other artifacts of their type. They may be valued or judged worthless. They have varied uses. They may be modified and improved upon. They may be subjects of discussion. New attributes, uses, or defects may be discovered that were not foreseen when they were created. People differ in how well they understand them and in how skilful they are in using them. (Bereiter, 2002. chapter 3)
Davies (2002) defines knowledge work that it is inherently cognitive rather than physical. Examples of outputs from knowledge work are analyses, evaluations, instructions, programs, plans, assurances, reasoning or arguments, decisions, and action plans. In other words, knowledge work is human mental work performed to generate useful information and knowledge. In doing the work, knowledge workers access data, use knowledge, employ mental models, and apply significant concentration and attention. Davies’ knowledge work model is presented in figure 2. (Davies, 2002. 68)