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Validation of Davenport's classification structure of knowledge‐intensive processes

Anoush Margaryan (Lecturer, Caledonian Academy, Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow, UK)
Colin Milligan (Research Fellow, Caledonian Academy, Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow, UK)
Allison Littlejohn (Chair of Learning Technology and the Director of the Caledonian Academy, Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow, UK)

Journal of Knowledge Management

ISSN: 1367-3270

Article publication date: 19 July 2011




This study aims to test the validity of a knowledge work typology proposed by Davenport. Although this typology has been referenced extensively in the literature, it does not appear to have been empirically validated.


The typology was tested through a questionnaire survey among knowledge workers (n=459) in a multinational company. A Principal Component Analysis (PCA) was applied to determine the knowledge work groupings arising from the survey.


The vast majority of the respondents could not be grouped into any one of Davenport's four knowledge work types. Furthermore, PCA revealed four groupings: low‐agency collaboration; low‐ agency routine work; rule‐based work; and high‐agency expert work. The results confirm only one of Davenport's typology models, the Expert model. Davenport's Collaboration model was found to have elements of the Transaction model. The Transaction and the Integration typology models were not confirmed. Instead, two further models incorporating elements of both Transaction and Integration models emerged. Finally, in contrast to Davenport's typology, the clusters that emerged from this study do not fit a matrix structure.

Research limitations

A follow‐up qualitative study would be required to better understand the four models that emerged from the data and to elucidate organisational factors that underpin the models.


This is the first empirical study testing the validity of Davenport's typology.



Margaryan, A., Milligan, C. and Littlejohn, A. (2011), "Validation of Davenport's classification structure of knowledge‐intensive processes", Journal of Knowledge Management, Vol. 15 No. 4, pp. 568-581.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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