OKLC 2005: On doing knowledge work

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Paper presentation from OKLC 2005 Boston

On doing knowledge work and being a knowledge worker: a discursive analysis of the accounts of HR professionals

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OKLC 2005: On doing knowledge work

  1. 1. OKLC 2005 OKLC 2005 Katrina Pritchard and Gillian Symon Department of Organizational Psychology Birkbeck College, University of London On doing knowledge work and being a knowledge worker: A discursive analysis of the accounts of HR professionals
  2. 2. Theoretical positioning Theoretical positioning <ul><ul><li>Knowledge as socially constructed and situated in practice </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Skepticism of importance of knowledge in and of itself </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Constructed and contested nature of knowledge work </li></ul></ul>Organizational Knowledge
  3. 3. Theoretical positioning Theoretical positioning <ul><ul><li>Neglect of discursive practice </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Discursive construction of knowledge claims </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Knowledge as socially constructed and situated in practice </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Skepticism of importance of knowledge in and of itself </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Constructed and contested nature of knowledge work </li></ul></ul>Organizational Knowledge Discourse
  4. 4. Theoretical positioning Theoretical positioning <ul><ul><li>Knowledge as socially constructed and situated in practice </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Skepticism of importance of knowledge in and of itself </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Constructed and contested nature of knowledge work </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Neglect of discursive practice </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Discursive construction of knowledge claims </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Problematic nature of knowledge base </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Discursive practice as key element of work </li></ul></ul>Organizational Knowledge Discourse HR professionals
  5. 5. Research questions Research questions <ul><ul><li>How are accounts of knowledge work constructed by those involved? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How do individuals position themselves in relation to their descriptions of this work? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What means are used to establish credibility of a) the work and b) the individuals’ role in relation to the work? </li></ul></ul>Organizational Knowledge Discourse HR professionals
  6. 6. About the study About the study <ul><ul><li>HR department within a UK financial services company </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Tracer study </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Discourse analysis of interview with 3 key players in one of the HR projects traced </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Analysis based on Fairclough’s Critical Discourse Analysis with focus on text and discursive practice </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. About the study About the study Overview of the tracer study for the HR project investigated Business Area Off-site HR project established Responsibilities assigned and logged on HR system Workstream meetings held Individuals research topics and prepare plans Expert input provided on key aspects Plans presented to steering committee Plans prioritised and imp’n assigned Plans communicated to employees Teams develop detailed plans and commence priority activities JULY 04 AUG 04 SEP 04 OCT 04 NOV 04 DEC 04
  8. 8. About the study About the study Overview of the tracer study for the HR project investigated Business Area Off-site HR project established Responsibilities assigned and logged on HR system Workstream meetings held Individuals research topics and prepare plans Expert input provided on key aspects Plans presented to steering committee Plans prioritised and imp’n assigned Plans communicated to employees Teams develop detailed plans and commence priority activities JULY 04 AUG 04 SEP 04 OCT 04 NOV 04 DEC 04 Tracer study commenced mid-October. Initial review of activity record (the tag) Participants identified Semi-structured interviews held Further on-going tracing of activities
  9. 9. Summary of findings Summary of findings How are accounts of knowledge work constructed by those involved? NOT INCLUDED ON SLIDE SHARE VERSION
  10. 10. Summary of findings Summary of findings How are accounts of knowledge work constructed by those involved? NOT INCLUDED ON SLIDE SHARE VERSION
  11. 11. Summary of findings Summary of findings How are accounts of knowledge work constructed by those involved? NOT INCLUDED ON SLIDE SHARE VERSION
  12. 12. Summary of findings Summary of findings How do individuals position themselves in relation to their descriptions of this work? The Specialist “ TP kind of mentioned it in passing and I said the usual thing you know, anything I can help with…. I think TP was trying to tap into my knowledge base so I could….you know really give TP a bit of guidance and say perhaps… [what] TP should focus on and things like that” “ giving TP any information and really letting TP run with it ‘cos it was TP’s thing but I guess just being there, TP knew to answer any questions or help…‘cos it’s huge, it can be a huge area” The specialist is not in control of the work itself but is in control of the knowledge. Position created is that of the all-knowing sage, almost sounds like a parent-child relationship.
  13. 13. Summary of findings Summary of findings How do individuals position themselves in relation to their descriptions of this work? Not included on slide share version
  14. 14. Summary of findings Summary of findings How do individuals position themselves in relation to their descriptions of this work? Not included on slide share version
  15. 15. Summary of findings Summary of findings What means are used to establish credibility of a) the work and b) the individuals’ role? Not included on slide share version
  16. 16. Summary of findings Summary of findings What means are used to establish credibility of a) the work and b) the individuals’ role? Not included on slide share version
  17. 17. Summary of findings Summary of findings What means are used to establish credibility of a) the work and b) the individuals’ role? Not included on slide share version
  18. 18. Discussion Discussion <ul><ul><li>Accounting seems important in the context of knowledge work/ers - discursive approach as valuable way of unpacking these accounts: What is going on and why? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Knowledge and knowledge work as outcomes of discursive processes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The resources used to construct knowledge and knowledge work AND how notions of knowledge are used as a resource </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Need to look more closely at the enabling/constraining role of broader Discourses in framing HR professionals knowledge and work </li></ul></ul>

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