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The concept of knowledge work revisited

Pasi Pyöriä (Researcher in the Department of Sociology and Social Psychology, University of Tampere, Finland. His recent publications have appeared in such journals as The Information Society and New Technology, Work and Employment. Currently he is preparing a book on the strengths and weaknesses of the Finnish information society. E‐mail:

Journal of Knowledge Management

ISSN: 1367-3270

Article publication date: 1 June 2005




To identify and critically assess the most recurrent themes in the ongoing debate on knowledge work.


A representative selection of studies published since 1962 is reviewed. The review focuses on the theoretical strengths and limitations of the concept of knowledge work.


The review indicates that definitions of knowledge work abound. Although knowledge work has attracted scholarly minds for several decades and the number of publications in this area has rapidly increased in recent years, it has proved hard to come by a clear and concise definition of this term. However, certain themes, such as a high level of education and skills and the use of information technology as an integral part of the informational labour process, have become increasingly common to both the empirical and the theoretical literature.


The paper helps pave the way for more detailed research by providing an ideal‐typical profile of informational labour.



Pyöriä, P. (2005), "The concept of knowledge work revisited", Journal of Knowledge Management, Vol. 9 No. 3, pp. 116-127.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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