Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Working Papers,
Copenhagen Business School, Department of Informatics

No 2000-1: Knowledge Work and Organisational Learning

Bente Elkjær
Additional contact information
Bente Elkjær: Department of Informatics, Copenhagen Business School, Postal: Department of Informatics, Copenhagen Business School, Howitzvej 60 , DK-2000 Frederiksberg, Denmark

Abstract: In this paper it is argued that the terms, knowledge work, knowledge workers, and knowledge intensive firms point to emerging social structures and processes in organisations. This focus allows us to analyse organisations in ways that differ from the notions involving less dynamic forms of organisational configurations. It is further argued that the emphasis on knowledge in organisations raises a fundamental question of learning, i. e. how knowledge workers acquire relevant competencies. However, the answer to this depends on how organisational life and work are understood and conceptualised. Three foci are suggested, organisations viewed through their use of technology, the division of labour, and the social interactions in organisations. These three foci relate to different understandings of learning, namely learning as cognition, as situated, and as the reconstruction of experiences. To illustrate both the emphasis on knowledge and the different perspectives on learning, a case study will be presented.

Keywords: knowledge work; organizations; social structures; learning; competence

JEL-codes: D21; D23; L20; M10

20 pages, May 23, 2000

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