Knowledge workers and their relationships with organisations

  • Joanne Carlier

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The programme of research examines knowledge workers, their relationships with organisations, and perceptions of management practices through the development of a theoretical model and knowledge worker archetypes. Knowledge worker and non-knowledge worker archetypes were established through an analysis of the extant literature. After an exploratory study of knowledge workers in a small software development company the archetypes were refined to include occupational classification data and the findings from Study 1. The Knowledge Worker Characteristics Model (KWCM) was developed as a theoretical framework in order to analyse differences between the two archetypes within the IT sector. The KWCM comprises of the variables within the job characteristics model, creativity, goal orientation, identification and commitment. In Study 2, a global web based survey was conducted. There were insufficient non-knowledge worker responses and therefore a cluster analysis was conducted to interrogate the archetypes further. This demonstrated, unexpectedly, that that there were marked differences within the knowledge worker archetypes suggesting the need to granulate the archetype further. The theoretical framework and the archetypes were revised (as programmers and web developers) and the research study was refocused to examine occupational differences within knowledge work. Findings from Study 2 identified that there were significant differences between the archetypes in relation to the KWCM. 19 semi-structured interviews were conducted in Study 3 in order to deepen the analysis using qualitative data and to examine perceptions of people management practices. The findings from both studies demonstrate that there were significant differences between the two groups but also that job challenge, problem solving, intrinsic reward and team identification were of importance to both groups of knowledge workers. This thesis presents an examination of knowledge workers’ perceptions of work, organisations and people management practices in the granulation and differentiation of occupational archetypes.
Date of Award15 Jan 2015
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorAnn Davis (Supervisor) & Michael J Butler (Supervisor)

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