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Knowledge Management and the Knowledge Worker

November 7, 2010

Today’s study was based on knowledge workers and of knowledge management in general and I finally came across work by Peter Drucker.  It didnt take long for him to be cited in an article, but when you are credited with coining a phrase such as “Knowledge Worker” that is not a surprise.  The Emerald database of academic articles had a special on him when I logged in today to search for some Drucker material (which must have been a sign), and one of the articles, “Disseminating Drucker” states he is the most referenced management thinker in textbooks, but apart from knowledge economy and management by objective topics, textbooks only reference to stress a point as opposed to discussing further work, does this make him the ultimate, “No Need to Do Any More Lads”, we have the “Final Thoughts”, the “Last Word” on the topic

I don’t think he would have thought so, and I would be interested to hear what his thoughts would have been to that finding.  In his book Management Challenges of the 21st Century, he says in earlier works by himself as well as Douglas McGregor they assumed there was one way to manage people which also assumes that all workers are employee’s, that all workers are unskilled, and are subordinates.  This is not now the case especially amongst the most knowledgeable of workers, and he says, “Knowledge workers are not subordinates, they are associates”, and “knowledge workers must know more about their jobs than their boss does, or else they are no good at all”.  He goes onto list six 6 factors to consider when looking at knowledge worker productivity of which number 4 says;

Knowledge work requires continuous learning on the part of the knowledge worker, but equally continuous teaching on the part of the knowledge worker.

Mr Drucker lived this in the same book when he admitted he and others were wrong in their initial theories regarding managing all workers the same and conceded to Abraham Maslow, as they are the owners of the asset (the knowledge) it is up to them, and not a manager or peer to push for maintenance of same.

In an organisation, including subsidiaries of large multinationals, how can we ensure that knowledge worker productivity is as effective as it could be, and what can we do to ensure that knowledge workers are maintaining the asset they are employed for (knowledge) in the first place.

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