Knowledge Worker

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A Knowledge Worker is a skilled worker who is a knowledge processing system (who can perform a knowledge-intensive job).




    • Knowledge workers in today's workforce are individuals who are valued for their ability to act and communicate with knowledge within a specific subject area. They will often advance the overall understanding of that subject through focused analysis, design and/or development. They use research skills to define problems and to identify alternatives. Fueled by their expertise and insight, they work to solve those problems, in an effort to influence company decisions, priorities and strategies. What differentiates knowledge work from other forms of work is its primary task of “non-routine” problem solving that requires a combination of convergent, divergent, and creative thinking (Reinhardt et al., 2011).[1] Also, despite the amount of research and literature on knowledge work there is yet to be a succinct definition of the term (Pyöriä, 2005).[2]

      The issue of who knowledge workers are, and what knowledge work entails, however, is still debated. Mosco and McKercher(2007) outline various viewpoints on the matter. They first point to the most narrow and defined definition of knowledge work, such as Florida’s view of it as specifically, “the direct manipulation of symbols to create an original knowledge product, or to add obvious value to an existing one” (Mosco and McKercher, 2007), which limits the definition of knowledge work to mainly creative work. They then contrast this view of knowledge work with the notably broader view which includes the handling and distribution of information, arguing that workers who play a role in the handling and distribution of information add real value to the field, despite not necessarily contributing a creative element. Thirdly, one might consider a definition of knowledge work which includes, “all workers involved in the chain of producing and distributing knowledge products”(2007), which allows for an incredibly broad and inclusive categorization of knowledge workers. It should thus be acknowledged that the term “knowledge worker” can be quite broad in it’s meaning, and is not always definitive in who it refers to. [3]

      Knowledge workers spend 38% of their time searching for information (Mcdermott, 2005). They are also often displaced from their bosses, working in various departments and time zones or from remote sites such as home offices (2005). [4]

      Knowledge workers are employees who have a deep background in education and experience and are considered people who “think for a living.” (Cooper, 2006). They include doctors, lawyers, teachers, nurses, financial analysts and architects (2006). [5] As businesses increase their dependence on information technology, the number of fields in which knowledge workers must operate has expanded dramatically.

  1. Reinhardt, W., Schmidt, B., Sloep, P., & Drachsler, H. (2011). Knowledge worker roles and actions – results of two empirical studies. Knowledge and Process Management, 18.3, 150-174. doi:10.1002/kpm.378
  2. Pyöriä, P. (2005). The concept of knowledge work revisited. Journal of Knowledge Management, 9.3, 116-127. doi:10.1108/13673270510602818
  3. Mosco, V. and McKercher, C. "Introduction: Theorizing knowledge labor and the information society". Knowledge Workers in the information society. p. vii-xxiv.
  4. Mcdermott, Michael. “Knowledge Workers: You can gauge their effectiveness.” Leadership Excellence. Vol. 22.10. October 2005, ABI/ Inform Global, p. 15. Retrieved on October 21, 2011.
  5. Cooper, Doug. “Knowledge Workers.” Canadian Businesses. Vol 79.20. October, 2006, Rogers Publishing Limited, p. 59. Retrieved on October 21, 2011



  1. To some extent, this is true of any humsn being, What distinguishes knowledge workers is that this is their primary motivation and the job they are paid to do.