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Of knowledge and work

  • Dankbaar, Ben
  • Vissers, Geert
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    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.

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

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    Date of creation: 2009
    Date of revision:
    Handle: RePEc:zbw:mpifgw:0916
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    1. Steven McIntosh & Anna Vignoles, 2000. "Measuring and assessing the impact of basic skills on labour market outcomes," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 19557, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. Inklaar, Robert & Timmer, Marcel & van Ark, Bart, 2006. "Mind the gap! International Comparisons of Productivity in Services and Goods Production," GGDC Research Memorandum GD-89, Groningen Growth and Development Centre, University of Groningen.
    5. Michael Peneder & Serguei Kaniovski & Bernhard Dachs, . "What Follows Tertiarisation? Structural Change and the Role of Knowledge-based Services," WIFO Working Papers 146, WIFO.
    6. Andrés Maroto & Luis Rubalcaba, 2008. "Services productivity revisited," The Service Industries Journal, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 28(3), pages 337-353, April.
    7. Eric A. Hanushek, 2002. "The Long Run Importance of School Quality," NBER Working Papers 9071, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Eric Hanushek & Ludger Woessmann, 2008. "The Role of Cognitive Skills in Economic Development," Discussion Papers 07-034, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
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