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Title WHOLE
Work process knowledge in technological and organisational development (Thematic Network)
Aspect
Concept Trends Findings Practice Challenge
Synopsis Several means of promoting work process knowledge have been identified:

(a) The growth of work process knowledge can be facilitated by organisational development. As enterprises develop more flexible ways of working, or introduce new technology, or establish better internal communications, or place a greater emphasis on customer relations, their employees may acquire a broader understanding of the overall work process. Examples include building self managing teams, participative work re-design, job splitting and 'design discourses'. 
    The 'design discourse' is held between professional employees (engineers and technicians) and shop floor workers. In the industry concerned (medical equipment manufacturing), the latter have not traditionally been regarded as experts in product quality. Nevertheless, the need for process innovation in this competitive market demands more collaboration between these two groups of employees, to create a shared picture of the overall production process. The shop floor workers are seen as possessing knowledge which can benefit the design process (Boreham et al. 2000a, pp. 3f., 49f.).

(b) Work process knowledge can be developed by re-designing automatic machines so that they generate more information about the work process. An example referred to is the development of a computer-implemented decision-support system for skilled maintenance workers (DIADOSYS).
    Also, simulation technique offers considerable opportunity for developing work process knowledge, although studies suggest that instructors might lack the skill to use simulators to best effect. Cases of  training simulation studied in the project include: instructor's intervention in glass cockpit training situations; Nuclear Power Plant supervision; and operational management in public safety (Boreham et al. 2000a, pp. 4, 50-56). 

(c) Formal vocational education can contribute to the development of work process knowledge. However, there is a need to co-ordinate it with experiential learning in the workplace. One method discussed in the report is the co-production of vocational school curricula by collaborations between schools and companies, based on a common model of the overall work process. This has been exemplified in the "Car Mechatronics" project (Boreham et al. 2000a, pp. 4, 56f.).

Reference Practice in the acquisition of work process knowledge is analysed in more detail in the final report (Boreham et al. 2000a, pp. 43-59). 
See also project info on WHOLE.
Descriptors D-KM  D-CVT  EP10        E12b
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Editor: Sabine Manning  © WIFO