Knowledge worker (also referred to as intellectual worker or brain worker) is someone who is employed due to his or her knowledge of a subject matter, rather than their ability to perform manual labor. It includes those in the information technology fields, such as computer programmers, systems analysts, technical writers and so forth. The term can also refer to people outside of information technology but who are hired for their knowledge of some subject, such as lawyers, teachers, and scientists. This lesson will help you to understand about the concept and background of knowledge worker.
The term was coined by Peter Drucker in 1959, is one who works primarily with information or one who develops and uses knowledge in the workplace. Due to the constant industrial growth in North America and globally, there is increasing need for an academically capable workforce. A Knowledge Worker’s benefit to a company could be in the form of developing business intelligence, increasing the value of intellectual capital, gaining insight into customer preferences, or a variety of other important gains in knowledge that aid the business.
In reviewing the literature, several views and definitions have been proposed for the knowledge worker. Here is a representative sample:
A knowledge worker is someone who uses IT in conducting day-to-day business and one that has direct impact on the efficiency and productivity of the job and the work process (Award 1996).
A knowledge worker is someone who follows a process requiring knowledge from both internal and external sources to produce a product that is distinguished by its specific information content (Kappes and Thomas 1993).
Anyone who makes a living out of creating, manipulating, or disseminating knowledge is a knowledge worker (Bennett 2001).
Individuals who add to a company’s products and services by applying their knowledge and are knowledge workers (Drucker 2001).
A knowledge worker is anyone who works for a living at the tasks of developing or using knowledge.
A knowledge worker knows that can actually be accomplished (Dove 1998).
A knowledge worker is one who gathers data/information from any source; adds value to the information; and distributes value-added products to others (Kappes and Thomas 1993).
Knowledge workers are people who use their heads more than their hands to produce value (Horibe 1999).