EPOL Research Brownbag - Ron Jacobs

by ketchum@illinois.edu  /   Mar 2, 2017

March 15, 12-1pm by Dr. Ronald Jacobs (Room 22)

Conceptualizing Knowledge Work for Human Resource Development

This Brown Bag session represents Dr. Jacobs’ scholarly focus and reports information from a manuscript now in preparation.  Jobs are undergoing change, and most of the change is towards knowledge work. Knowledge work requires employees to use their thinking abilities to an extent more than ever before. The concept of knowledge work was first suggested by Peter Drucker in his text, "Landmarks of Tomorrow" (1957).  Today knowledge work has become part of jobs at many different levels, including: frontline employees, technicians, engineers, and managers.

While knowledge work has received much attention in the management literature, there has been limited attention given to the topic in the human resource development literature.  As a result, two fundamental questions about knowledge work have not been fully addressed, which the human resource development discipline might be uniquely suited to help address.  The first question is what are the characteristics of knowledge work that differentiate it from other patterns of work behavior? The second question focuses on how organizations might reliably develop employees to perform knowledge work?

This Brown Bag session will have the following goals:

Review the various definitions of knowledge work B. Propose a definition of knowledge work relevant to human resource development, based on the notion of knowledge-based tasks C.  Discuss an employee development framework that has been implemented in organizations to help employees learn to perform knowledge-based tasks D.  Discuss research implications to advance understanding of knowledge work.