Modern organizations demand professional employees able to master new knowledge and skills all their life. Knowledge workers is unique group of employees which possesses the ability to interpret, use and apply information in new and specific areas of organizational performance (Kucza and Komi-Sirvio 2001). Basic activities in the various environments in which knowledge workers perform, communicate, and raise their [professional abilities present them with problems and opportunities that challenge and stimulate them to learn new things and develop new professional competences.
Competence, in this case, refers to one’s capabilities for organizing and effectively using cognitive, social, and behavioral knowledge in order to achieve one’s purposes and goals at work. Competence is not something that a worker either has or does not have, such as specific knowledge, skills, or abilities. Goals, interests, values, and attitudes influence the way in which one organizes one’s individual resources for mastering the problems and challenges encountered in life. Every knowledge worker has a level of competence that has been developed in diverse ways and to varying degrees (Child, 2005).
For knowledge workers, the autonomy principle is important because it means that, while the external environment plays an important role in competence development, knowledge workers are not simply the products of their environments or workplaces. Rather, knowledge workers have the potential for managing and changing the course of their organizations (Kucza and Komi-Sirvio 2001). At the same time it is clear that the roles knowledge workers play in the different organizations in which they act exert strong influences on actions. Such corporations as IBM and Apple are two best examples of ideal knowledge workers workplaces.
Information technology is the main sphere of business for both companies, so knowledge workers have unlimited possibilities to apply their professional knowledge in unique settings. The development of Apple’s iPod and IBM RDBMS are examples of such knowledge development (Child, 2005).
Organizational environment for knowledge workers
The feedback or messages knowledge workers get concerning how well their actions are meeting goals also play a role in influencing their behavior. Knowledge workers develop greater competence as a result of the experience we acquire through ongoing activities in environments (Frame, 2002). So, the best place foreknowledge workers is innovative and entrepreneur company able to understand and accept innovations proposed by its knowledge workers (Redpath et al 2007).
Still, direct experience remains an important element in learning throughout professional lives, and knowledge workers can do without it only if their level of competence development has reached a degree of elaboration that permits a cognitive acquisition of new meanings. In short, knowledge workers need the stimulation or purpose to motivate them to develop unique competences as well as the freedom to learn and grow and access to the support and organizational resources to help them succeed. The chance to acquire cultural meanings is a matter of how access to the cultural store is distributed among members of the organizational culture. Company is one major way in which access to knowledge workers meanings is distributed in most societies (Kucza and Komi-Sirvio 2001).
In sum, knowledge workers need autonomy and independence in order to apply their knowledge and skills into practice. Two principles of work design in particular — opportunities for ongoing learning and development and opportunities for self-governed action — are constantly associated with better organizational performance. These two principles are associated with higher productivity, quality and other measures of effective project performance.
Child, J. 2005, Organization: contemporary principles and practice. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing.
Frame, J.D. 2002. The New Project Management: Tools for an Age of Rapid Change, Complexity, and Other Business Realities. Jossey-Bass.
Kucza, T. Komi-Sirvio, S. 2001. Utilising Knowledge Management in Software Process Improvement – The Creation of a Knowledge Management Process Model. ICE.
Redpath, L. Hurst, D., Devine, K. 2007, Contingent Knowledge Worker Challenges. Human Resource Planning, 30 (1), 43.