IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Of knowledge and work


  • Dankbaar, Ben
  • Vissers, Geert


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.

Suggested Citation

  • Dankbaar, Ben & Vissers, Geert, 2009. "Of knowledge and work," MPIfG Working Paper 09/16, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies.
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:mpifgw:0916

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. McIntosh, Steven & Vignoles, Anna, 2001. "Measuring and Assessing the Impact of Basic Skills on Labour Market Outcomes," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 53(3), pages 453-481, July.
    2. Robert Inklaar & Marcel P. Timmer & Bart van Ark, 2007. "Mind the Gap! International Comparisons of Productivity in Services and Goods Production," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 8, pages 281-307, May.
    3. Eric A. Hanushek & Ludger Woessmann, 2008. "The Role of Cognitive Skills in Economic Development," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 46(3), pages 607-668, September.
    4. Dieter Verhaest & Eddy Omey, 2006. "Measuring the Incidence of Over- and Undereducation," Quality & Quantity: International Journal of Methodology, Springer, vol. 40(5), pages 783-803, October.
    5. Andrés Maroto & Luis Rubalcaba, 2008. "Services productivity revisited," The Service Industries Journal, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 28(3), pages 337-353, April.
    6. Eric A. Hanushek, 2002. "The Long Run Importance of School Quality," NBER Working Papers 9071, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. 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.
    8. Schettkat, Ronald & Yocarini, Lara, 2006. "The shift to services employment: A review of the literature," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 17(2), pages 127-147, June.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. 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). General contact details of provider: .

    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 CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc 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 RePEc Author Service 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.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.