Advanced Search
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Of knowledge and work


Author Info

  • Dankbaar, Ben
  • Vissers, Geert
Registered author(s):


    The idea of the knowledge economy has brought with it a new paradigm of work that espouses the professionalization of all work. This new paradigm is now affecting the organization of work throughout the economy. However, not all work is knowledge work, whatever definition is used. The number of 'professionals' may rise, but many workers still face rather traditional working conditions. Moreover, we argue, the expected growth in the share of knowledge work may be less than expected: along with the forces pushing for an increase in knowledge work, there are also forces counteracting these. We develop a simple typology of work that takes autonomy and frequency of external contacts as dimensions. Workplaces with high autonomy and frequent external contacts (with customers and other stakeholders) are considered 'paradigmatic' for knowledge work. Using data from the European Working Conditions Survey (EWCS), we analyze the distribution of the European workforce across different types of work. Analysis of EWCS data (1995, 2000, 2005) shows that 'paradigmatic' knowledge work is actually shrinking. We offer a first, tentative explanation of this remarkable trend. -- Die Idee der 'Wissensökonomie' beinhaltet ein neues Paradigma der Professionalisierung von Arbeit, das Einzug in die Organisation der Arbeit der gesamten Wirtschaft gehalten hat. Doch nicht jede Arbeit ist Wissensarbeit, wie auch immer man diese definiert. Die Anzahl der 'Wissensarbeiter' mag steigen, doch sehen sich viele Arbeitnehmer weiterhin durchaus traditionellen Arbeitsbedingungen gegenüber. Darüber hinaus, so die Argumentation der Autoren, kann das erwartete Wachstum des Anteils der Wissensarbeit noch geringer ausfallen als erwartet: Neben Trends, die einen Anstieg der Wissensarbeit fördern, gibt es auch solche, die dagegenhalten. Das Papier entwickelt eine einfache Typologie wissensbasierter Arbeit, in deren Zentrum die Autonomie der Arbeitnehmer und die Häufigkeit externer Kontakte stehen. Arbeitsplätze mit hoher Autonomie und häufigen externen Kontakten (mit Kunden und anderen Akteuren) werden als 'paradigmatisch' für Wissensarbeit gewertet. Die Verteilung der Arbeitskraft in Europa auf verschiedene Beschäftigungstypen wird anhand von Datenmaterial des European Working Conditions Survey (EWCS) aus 1995, 2000 und 2005 analysiert. Die Ergebnisse zeigen, dass 'paradigmatische' Wissensarbeit eher rückläufig ist. Das Papier versucht eine erste Erklärung dieser überraschenden Entwicklung.

    Download Info

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies in its series MPIfG Working Paper with number 09/16.

    as in new window
    Date of creation: 2009
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:zbw:mpifgw:0916

    Contact details of provider:
    Postal: Paulstr. 3, 50676 Köln
    Phone: + 49 (0) 221-2767-0
    Web page:
    More information through EDIRC

    Related research



    References listed on IDEAS
    Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
    as in new window
    1. Robert Inklaar & Marcel P. Timmer & Bart van Ark, 2006. "Mind the gap! International comparisons of productivity in services and goods production," Hi-Stat Discussion Paper Series, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University d06-175, Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University.
    2. Schettkat, Ronald & Yocarini, Lara, 2006. "The shift to services employment: A review of the literature," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 17(2), pages 127-147, June.
    3. Steven McIntosh & Anna Vignoles, 2000. "Measuring and Assessing the Impact of Basic Skills on Labour Market Outcomes," CEE Discussion Papers, Centre for the Economics of Education, LSE 0003, Centre for the Economics of Education, LSE.
    4. Michael Peneder & Serguei Kaniovski & Bernhard Dachs, 2003. "What follows tertiarisation? structural change and the role of knowledge-based services," The Service Industries Journal, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 23(2), pages 47-66, March.
    5. Hanushek, Eric A. & Wößmann, Ludger, 2008. "The role of cognitive skills in economic development," Munich Reprints in Economics, University of Munich, Department of Economics 20454, University of Munich, Department of Economics.
    6. Andrés Maroto & Luis Rubalcaba, 2008. "Services productivity revisited," The Service Industries Journal, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 28(3), pages 337-353, April.
    7. Dieter Verhaest & Eddy Omey, 2006. "Measuring the Incidence of Over- and Undereducation," Quality & Quantity: International Journal of Methodology, Springer, Springer, vol. 40(5), pages 783-803, October.
    8. Eric A. Hanushek, 2002. "The Long Run Importance of School Quality," NBER Working Papers 9071, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)



    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.


    Access and download statistics


    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:zbw:mpifgw:0916. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (ZBW - German National Library of Economics).

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.