Information Society and the Workplace: Spaces, Boundaries and Agency

Philip Calvert (Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand

The Electronic Library

ISSN: 0264-0473

Article publication date: 1 December 2004




Calvert, P. (2004), "Information Society and the Workplace: Spaces, Boundaries and Agency", The Electronic Library, Vol. 22 No. 6, pp. 531-531.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

What this book does very successfully is take macro theories of the information society and examine their application in micro situations. Webster set out five main themes in the literature of the information society: technological, economic, occupational, spatsial, and cultural. It was already apparent as Webster wrote that the first three definitions had been given considerable attention, but the spatial and cultural theories remained unexplored by comparison. Castells drew further attention to the application of space in the information society when he talked about the importance of the “space of flows”. The importance of space to Castells, as with other writers such as Giddens and Lefebvre, has much to do with the workplace. The interesting theory of Ba, proposed by Nonako, examines social interaction in the physical, virtual and mental space and suggests that it is very significant in the creation of new knowledge – hence its significance in the “social network” views of knowledge management. Although each theory has its detractors, the general progress of thinking is towards the importance of “communities of practice” as a central point in information societies.

Routledge have taken the brave step of publishing a volume of Finnish writers on topics ranging over human relationships with technology at work, the dynamics and control of IT firms, women and technological pressure at work, and the individual's sense of value (or lack of it) while at work. There are several chapters worth noting. Riita Kuusinen's exploration of “empty spaces without knowledge and management” is a very useful contribution to the theory of knowledge creation. She is taken by the possibility of “action learning” in the workplace because this creates what she has called “action knowledge” highly relevant to the specifics of practice. Riita Lavikka has examined how people cope with the increasing use of IT at work that seems to erode their personal sense of value and the perception that their skills are valuable to the company. Information managers should read this chapter as a warning about the dangers of unwitting devaluation of staff skills. The final two chapters on the Information Society by Tuula Heiskanen and Jeff Hearn remind us that information societies are still societies and individuals need to know they have a place within them.

Interestingly, all the contributors, bar one co‐editor, are women, and that alone may make this a likely purchase for some libraries. This volume is a useful addition to the literature of knowledge management.

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