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 9: Pleasure, Motivation and Identity in Knowledge Work

Dariusz Jemielniak

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


BOREDOM VS. FUN Boredom and other adverse aspects of work have been regarded as important demotivating factors since the very beginning of management science. One of the main pioneers of scientific management theory, regarded as the paragon of a capitalist (and hated within the trade unions of the time) was Henry Ford. He postulated (2006, p. 230) the following: The time has come when drudgery must be taken out of labour. It is not work that men object to, but the element of drudgery. We must drive out drudgery wherever we find it. We shall never be wholly civilized until we remove the treadmill from the daily job. If one did not know the author of that statement, the words could be easily attributed to one of his great opponents and “Theory X” followers (McGregor, 1960). What is interesting, however, is that one of Marx’s memorials is to have advocated the situation where not only was work a pleasure but also hobbies would have features similar to work (Marx, 1973). Marx predicted that one of the properties of the communist system would be a blur between work and play. Also, some modern-day scholars argue that technological advancements will in the long run lead to an inevitably to a decline in the demand for work, which then will result in a significant decrease in employment figures and work time (Gorz, 1985). When people start to work less then they do at present (according to Gorz, about 20 000 hours during a...

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