- New Horizons in Management series
Chapter 8: Trust in Knowledge Work
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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