The New Knowledge Workers

The New Knowledge Workers

New Horizons in Management series

Dariusz Jemielniak

This critical ethnographic study of knowledge workers and knowledge-intensive organization workplaces focuses on the issues of timing and schedules, the perception of formality and trust and distrust in software development as well as motivation and occupational identity among software engineers.

Chapter 1: Outline of the Research Project

Dariusz Jemielniak

Subjects: business and management, human resource management, organisational innovation, innovation and technology, organisational innovation

Extract

HIGH-TECH COMPANIES This book describes the organizational practices in the knowledge worker workplace and focuses on employees in the high-tech industry, or, to be exact, the IT industry (in some cases engineers developing the latest hardware, but mostly programmers). Even though it uses the word “work” more often than “labor”, in line with other publications on the subject (this careful avoidance in the literature is most interesting and could be a topic of a separate study in itself), it describes broadly the current proletarianization of knowledge-intensive professions, using the example of software engineers. The programming industry, quite surprisingly, is rather difficult to define. It encompasses both companies that offer sophisticated solutions (i.e. complex IT systems to target specific problems of organizations) and also other companies developing ready-made software to be sold on the mass market or quasi-mass market, usually without the possibility of modifications. The degree of innovation in the programming market can also vary widely. Some companies focus on technological breakthroughs and the development of new solutions, but, there are also others that do repetitive implementations of ready-made IT systems, using commonly known tools, or offer simple IT services, specializing in cost-effectiveness, sales and marketing (particularly in the server-hosting market). The typical division of the IT industry into hardware, software and services is very often blurred – many manufacturers of the latest equipment will also develop software and implement solutions; software producers successfully enter the hardware and services market; and service companies will offer software and hardware under their own...