findings of the project are summarised in the following conclusions:
Studies of the new work situations in many of these sectors confirm the
need for work process knowledge in order to deal with the impact of new
technology on work organisation, and to achieve the flexibility needed
to achieve continuous improvement and responsiveness to changing market
Work process knowledge is constructed in the workplace at the time of use.
It may be generated by resolving contradictions between explicit work-related
knowledge (such as official procedures or scientific explanations of technical
processes) and the worker's direct experience of working conditions, such
as customer relations or the idiosyncratic functioning of equipment.
Much work process knowledge in organisations is tacit, because it is embodied
in personal experience and social networks. However, it is not elusive:
it can be identified, analysed and expressed in ways that can serve as
cognitive tools for performing work and generating further knowledge in
Much work process knowledge is held collectively, and can best be viewed
as one aspect of the culture of the workplace. Thus in an important sense,
it is owned by the workforce.
When organisations become more flexible and/or introduce new technology
in response to competitive pressures, many stress factors are created which
make it difficult to generate and exchange work-related knowledge in the
workplace - these include loss of professional identity, insecurity and
the pressures of work intensification.
While the development of work process knowledge can be viewed as a major
resource for improving economic competitiveness through modernisation,
there are limits to its contribution. Many manufacturing firms are finding
a competitive advantage in Taylorism and Fordism, and are adapting to more
competitive markets without fundamentally altering the nature of the labour
process. And even in 'learning organisations', the contribution of work
process knowledge can be limited, as many knowledge-creating companies
place limits on the scope of knowledge creation and sharing in the workplace
(Boreham et al. 2000a, pp. 3, 4).