APOSDLE Glossary: Knowledge-intensive Work

With the term knowledge worker we refer to an employee of an organisation whose essential operational and value creating tasks consists in the production and distribution of knowledge (Machlup, 1962). Rudolph et al. (1987) distinguish between routine knowledge work and knowledge work with a dominant creative part. Studies have revealed that truly creative activities only account for about 20% of knowledge workers’ tasks. Other models of knowledge-intensive work (Schreiber et al., 1999) distinguish between synthetic tasks (design, modelling, planning, scheduling, assignment) and analytic tasks (classification, assessment, diagnosis, monitoring, and prediction).

Knowledge Workers are predominantly controlled by overall goals and expected results instead of defined procedures. Thus, they have significant autonomy in structuring their activities (such as timing and procedures) (Pyöriä, 2003; Davenport, 2005). This means they may dynamically switch to different tasks or domains in the process of their work. This is also reflected by dynamic changes in their user context (see 6.2.49). Knowledge Workers may dynamically switch to different roles in the context of their work, e.g. to that of the learner (6.2.31) or the expert (6.2.20). Learning goals (6.2.35), as well as learning strategies (6.2.38), are usually set by knowledge workers themselves.

Example: Requirements Engineering is a very complex activity. In order to enable people to handle this complexity, RESCUE defines a task structure which determines when and where which activity has to take place. Within the single activities however are parts which require experience and substantial creative powers in order to execute them well. APOSDLE here can introduce the structure, provide guidance for the individual activities and help experts to communicate their experiences etc. In order to support the creative parts APOSDLE might be able to point the user to relevant information.

A first goal of APOSDLE is to research learning aspects of knowledge-intensive work. Within the workplace learning study (Deliverable II.1, Month 9) we will analyze relevant aspects and distinctions of knowledge-intensive work in respect to learning and arrive at a better understanding of work-integrated/workplace learning itself. Based on this study APOSDLE will then choose a focus for the support tools.

This definition is taken from the APOSDLE Project Glossary. At time of publication the latest version appeared in Deliverable D6.02 Use Scenarios & Application Requirements (First prototype; domain RE) available from APOSDLE Results. In this document, all mentioned external and cross references can be found.


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