Managing Knowledge Workers: Unleashing Innovation and Productivity


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Structured data from the Bibframe namespace is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4. Additional terms may apply to data associated with third party namespaces. Link Analysis Experimental. Network Analysis Inbound Links 1 1 Total. And in that case, co-determination may be a more accurate term. Co-determination is not laisses-faire leadership.

It is authentic involvement with the workers, acknowledgment of their presence and recognition of their skills. It is different from empowerment, because under conditions of co-determination the knowledge worker is always already in power. It may, however, be necessary for a manager from time to time to remind knowledge workers of their significance, illume their professional value and related responsibilities, but always with respect and from a dedication to cooperate rather than control.

As a starting point for any change process, co-determination should be considered for the sake of arriving at sound courses of action, with minimum risk of conflict and maximum potential for success. Co-determination must, however, be made with caution and cleverness.

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For a manager or a group of managers, to decide when to involve whom, at which stage and to what extent is a complex affair. It can be wrong to involve a worker in one setting, just as it is wrong not to do so in another. The crucial thing is to always consider, how co-determination is a factor in a work situation, seeing it more as a professional value than a managerial instrument.

This implies that the managers are themselves a part of those processes of organizing and innovation going on at a given time, and therefore should be ready to undertake the same changes as everyone else Klev and Levin, ; Quinn, On a deeper level, organizing is something a manager does continually, mindfully and always with regard to context Dehlin, In a knowledge-intensive firm, workers are the most significant contextual element.

They are the most valuable capital, to the extent that one aims for mindful innovation over mindless production. Rather than aiming for control, then, knowledge managers should aim to build a system of mutual trust and learning, a system in which they themselves are a crucial part.

The role of the knowledge manager is not as an outside mover causing exogenous changes. Managing knowledge workers is better understood as an acknowledging style of leadership, always sensitive to the autonomy of workers but also mindful of responsibilities and demands that apply. If you trust your knowledge workers, they may start to trust each other. It can be difficult to see in concrete terms what recognition and acknowledgment mean in everyday work life. Perhaps it is easier to see what it does not mean. Building and enforcing a system of management control, for instance, may signal a lack of trust, which again may spur the understanding that the best you can do is not to make mistakes.

If workers are already professionally dedicated, their identities tied up in their work, their energy associated with original problem-solving, innovation and learning may be difficult to foster under strict control regimes. This is not to say that bureaucracy and management control are always counter-productive to innovation or to the successful leading of knowledge workers. Some level of structure and system is of the utmost importance as a means to organize complex businesses.

The trick is to avoid making it into an ideology, in which management becomes managerialism.

In the case of the latter, the organization has become totalitarian, effectively cleansing its practices of any potential for authentic recognition and acknowledgment. Management is a tool for leadership, not an end unto itself Dehlin, Knowledge workers not only spot trends of managerialism easily, they also loathe them to the extent that they are seen as hampering a sound development of knowledge practices.

A leadership style of co-determination and acknowledgment may go a long way, in that it pushes the right buttons.

Managing Knowledge Workers : Unleashing Innovation and Productivity by A. D. Amar (2001, Hardcover)

In a knowledge incentive company, workers often know more than their managers. They are experts. To acknowledge them can be hard for any manager afraid of being seen as less important, less skilled, or less adept at creative problem-solving. But not to try is equivalent to constructing inauthentic positions where power and authority become more of a struggle than a negotiation.

And when legitimacy is given to a manager, it reduces the chance of conflict as a meaningful context is established. Acknowledgment can be a fruitful way of achieving such legitimacy. In short, it is everything that involves taking an interest in others, not because the Human Resource Management system demands it, but because the manager sees it as vital. Acknowledgment is appraisal and reward, but on a much deeper level, it is confirming others as important, valued and interesting.

To acknowledge someone is to confirm his or her identity, and it presupposes taking an interest in where this someone is emotionally, socially, and professionally. A manager who acknowledges his workforce is a manager who learns from the workers and who is also capable of making them acknowledge and learn from each other. Contemporary philosophy highlights the importance and power of social recognition, deeming it vital for professional and personal development see for instance Honneth, ; Windt, and Weber, Many expand on philosopher George H. Mead, claiming that participating in communities, groups, and teams is the precursor for individual freedom and identity.

For knowledge workers, recognition from peers or other experts may be a prime driver for growth. This is not a clear-cut model for managing knowledge workers, but rather a reminder of the shortcomings of any such model.

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A way of seeing all is a way of seeing no one. The stepping stones for knowledge managers are context sensitivity, recognition, and respect in harmony with the use of appropriate tools and systems, clear expectations and possibilities for growth. Knowledge workers need collectivity to learn, and managers are co-learners in that same collective. Alvesson, M. Odd couple: making sense of the curious concept of knowledge management. Clegg, S. The first step in updating a national innovation strategy should be to review areas of domestic demand that local companies might serve in innovative ways.

A recent example is the emergence of platform organizations in China—Alipay and Tencent—which grew digital payment systems to address the needs of many Chinese consumers, including those who were digitally connected but unbanked. Relevant areas of demand might arise through indigenous consumer habits or through gaps in the provision of social services, as in the case of Ping An Insurance Group, which developed the platform Ping An Good Doctor to provide digital health-care services to Chinese consumers who needed efficient access to general health-care advice.

This process need not focus on purely white space; many good opportunities have been addressed by domestic providers in other countries and are ripe for the emergence of a local adaptation. Reframe the national innovation system. Having established opportunity areas, governments should identify existing and potential innovation assets that seem most promising as means to address these opportunities within the new competitive paradigm.

Refresh innovation policies and incentives. Many Middle Billion countries have overlapping policies and initiatives in place to support innovation, often as a result of bureaucratic silos. We also encounter many policies in Middle Billion countries that are highly aspirational but unrealistic—for example, incentives to encourage the biotech industry, even though the national health-care system barely functions. Countries should instead adopt new policies to promote innovation in currently promising sectors and, in particular, to help hidden innovators.

Although some governments may offer verbal support for innovators, their policies may encourage them to remain in the informal sector—by punishing their success with burdensome taxation, for example.

During this policy review, governments should also consider adopting new metrics, such as measures of commercialization to complement conventional metrics such as patents. Open markets to the most innovative private players. In many Middle Billion countries, the government participates in the economy, giving it a disincentive to allow highly innovative local players to disrupt legacy business models. Yet among the most powerful tools that governments have at their disposal is the ability to create and stimulate demand for private players.

Although certain strategic industries will remain state owned, this is an opportune time to open other sectors, where business models will eventually be disrupted, to give domestic companies freer rein to innovate. A prime example is digital media, an area where many Middle Billion governments retain stakes that go beyond strategic interests and where legacy business models face unprecedented disruption.

This represents a significant opportunity for local innovators, as a large share of content will always remain anchored in local language and culture.


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  • Experiment with sector-level regulations and incentives. Typically, regulations and incentives for innovation should differ significantly from one industry to another. Although it may be premature to focus on a shortlist of sectors, governments should use regulatory sandboxes and pilot schemes to experiment with promising sectors, and then reward national innovation by extending and deepening those schemes.

    The process of enabling a new national innovation system includes investing in infrastructure, accelerating and refocusing skills and training, improving public—private partnerships, and supporting suitable foreign direct investment. Invest in supporting infrastructure, including access to data.

    Managing Knowledge Workers: Unleashing Innovation and Productivity Managing Knowledge Workers: Unleashing Innovation and Productivity
    Managing Knowledge Workers: Unleashing Innovation and Productivity Managing Knowledge Workers: Unleashing Innovation and Productivity
    Managing Knowledge Workers: Unleashing Innovation and Productivity Managing Knowledge Workers: Unleashing Innovation and Productivity
    Managing Knowledge Workers: Unleashing Innovation and Productivity Managing Knowledge Workers: Unleashing Innovation and Productivity
    Managing Knowledge Workers: Unleashing Innovation and Productivity Managing Knowledge Workers: Unleashing Innovation and Productivity
    Managing Knowledge Workers: Unleashing Innovation and Productivity Managing Knowledge Workers: Unleashing Innovation and Productivity
    Managing Knowledge Workers: Unleashing Innovation and Productivity Managing Knowledge Workers: Unleashing Innovation and Productivity
    Managing Knowledge Workers: Unleashing Innovation and Productivity Managing Knowledge Workers: Unleashing Innovation and Productivity

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