Employee-employer relations in a knowledge based economy

I’ve long believed that the prevelance of knowledge work in organizations today will (eventually) fundamentally shift the employee – employer relationship. In many ways, knowledge workers will come to be “self-employed” in the sense that they are working to improve themselves and to make an impact on the world at large and not just within the company they happen to be “working for” at the time.

With 401k plans allowing for retirement planning independent of a specific job or pension plan, and for various other reasons that are well documented elsewhere, knowledge workers don’t seem to be staying in the same place for their entire careers anymore. With retirement taken care of, other things today’s employees need to consider include health/life insurance, etc. A truly self-employed knowledge worker also has to worry about the business end of things, such as billing’invoicing, taxes, payroll, etc. etc.

By working “for” a company, knowledge workers are in many ways simply out-sourcing the business end of being self-employed so they can focus on the job itself.

This obviously raises some interesting questions for organizations….

Knowledge Jolt with Jack: Ah, to be back in school

Knowledge Jolt with Jack: Ah, to be back in school

As a comment to the course syllabus for a course on Knowledge Management Systems at the University of Texas School of Information, Jack states:

I love that the course includes at least three weeks about how these ideas relate to the individual (email, PIM and PKM) before expanding the idea to enterprise knowledge management. It parallels my thinking that these are tightly connected — or that they are simply on the same continuum.

I tend to agree with him that it all falls along the same continuum, that you can’t separate out the individuals, or individual parts, from the whole. This, then, begs the question of what makes up the continuum, and what are the component parts?

Several years ago, I jotted down some thoughts on what the high-level parts of the information and knowledge environment in any organization are. I came up with the following 4:

  • Personal / Individual

  • Group / Team

  • Organizational

  • External Interaction

I’ll expand on these in future posts….