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Measuring knowledge work: the knowledge work quantification framework

Yuri W. Ramirez (Technology Development Department, Intel Corporation, Hillsboro, Oregon, USA)
Harry J. Steudel (Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, University of Wisconsin‐Madison, Madison, Wisconsin, USA)

Journal of Intellectual Capital

ISSN: 1469-1930

Article publication date: 17 October 2008




The purpose of this paper is to present the knowledge work (KW) quantification framework – a mathematical model to quantify KW. The framework calculates a knowledge work score (KWS) that positions each worker in the KW continuum.


The framework states that KW is a continuum and that eight KW dimensions can be used to differentiate between manual and KW. A methodology was developed that follows a series of steps to calculate the KWS. Operational definitions are presented and explained.


By assigning a knowledge work intensity score to the tasks a worker does, the knowledge work quantification framework (KWQF) calculates the intensity score for the job hence an intensity score for the worker. KWSs are calculated for two example jobs to illustrate the KWQF and the allocation of the jobs in the KW continuum.

Research limitations/implications

Since there have been no previous studies like this, it is difficult to compare results. A larger sample of workers for different work types would provide more data points in the KW continuum. Other limitations are discussed in the paper.

Practical implications

The knowledge worker (KWr) has become the predominant type of worker in today's economy. With most of manual work being researched and optimized, it is in scientifically improving our understanding of the KWr where the opportunities for improving productivity lie.


In the past, the field has lacked a scientific approach and has been studies more in terms of opinions and theories rather than an empirical research frame of mind. This paper is the first attempt to create a methodology that quantifies KW.



Ramirez, Y.W. and Steudel, H.J. (2008), "Measuring knowledge work: the knowledge work quantification framework", Journal of Intellectual Capital, Vol. 9 No. 4, pp. 564-584.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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