The idea of knowledge work has been around for some time. Mintzberg spoke about “knowledge intensive firms” outlining differences between knowledge intensive organizations and professional bureaucracies. A professional bureaucracy, for instance, typically relies on standardized knowledge, skills and routines, relying on typical professional features: codification, strong and clearly defined professional associations and codes of ethics. In the past professional identities have been shaped by (at least) symbolic association with such features. With sweeping changes to professional life and organization, many “knowledge workers” no longer belong to any of the traditional disciplinary professions. Cross‐disciplinary approaches are often now in favour and the symbolism that might have once reinforced professional identity has all‐but been replaced by the new competencies required in the high‐tech era: extensive communication, problem‐solving and coordination skills. The labour market is not stable and, as Mintzberg aptly put it, “knowledge intensity” has become a premium product.
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