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 8: Trust in Knowledge Work

Dariusz Jemielniak

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


INTRODUCTION An important element in discussing knowledge workers is a transformation process signaled by Zygmunt Bauman (1998), where he points to an era changing from pre-modern to modern. Bauman’s transformation is based in part on departing from symmetric control (exercised by the members of a given community over one another) and in part on a greater share of asymmetric control (exercised by the state over its citizens). This “pastoral power”, as it is named by Michel Foucault (1993), is based on denying subordinates the right to express their opinion and is based on favoring a superior’s knowledge. This power game then leads directly to the greater role of knowledge itself (Henriksen et al., 2004) and, partially, to the development of knowledge workers as a group. According to Bauman (1998, p. 61), an expert’s role can be established only under conditions of constant power asymmetry. This in and of itself is another consequence of the distinctive transfer of social power and is thus related to the origin of the modern era. This power shift is related directly to the issue of trust. Until the 1990s this topic was not given much attention in the management literature. It is an important cultural element, however, which to a great extent influences the development of elements such as professional roles, transaction costs, typical behavior patterns etc. (Sztompka, 1999). According to John H. Goldthorpe (1982, p. 168), what distinguishes professionals from others is above all a “high degree of trust” granted to them, which results...

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