The New Knowledge Workers
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The New Knowledge Workers

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.
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Chapter 4: Knowledge Workers

Dariusz Jemielniak


This book is based on the study of programmers. In the literature they fall into the category of knowledge workers, professionals, engineers and white-collars. All these categories are justified, although each one takes account of slightly different dimensions of their role, which is why these terms and categories are the subject of this chapter. In terms of broad simplification, it can be assumed that, for knowledge workers, knowledge is as much the resource and means of production as it is the result of their work (Newell et al., 2002). For them, to divide work up into planning, scheduling and following the plan is a gross distortion. This is a view which, as mentioned earlier, has appeared only recently and is typical of the transformation process taking place in the knowledgeintensive economy. Because this category of employees is relatively new and small, most modern analysis of contemporary organizational transformation processes relates to manual workers and is linked to the quite obvious observation that the mechanization and computerization of production change the character of manual work for more than they do that of intellectual work. Experts who deal with the latest technologies in particular are seldom the subject of these academic considerations. This is mostly due to the novelty of their profession, (which makes them seem less prone to changes). Second, a common belief is that through their link to technology and access to knowledge they enjoy a privileged status, and may indeed even seem to exist above and beyond typical organizational...

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