Advertisement

Vocations and Learning

, Volume 3, Issue 3, pp 203–222 | Cite as

‘Knowledge Workers’ as the New Apprentices: The Influence of Organisational Autonomy, Goals and Values on the Nurturing of Expertise

  • Alison FullerEmail author
  • Lorna Unwin
Original Paper

Abstract

This paper explores the concept of apprenticeship in the context of the professional formation of knowledge workers. It draws on evidence from research conducted in two knowledge intensive organizations: a research-intensive, elite university; and a ‘cutting edge’ software engineering company. In the former, we investigated the learning environments of contract researchers, whilst in the latter, we focused on the learning environments of software engineers. Both organisations have ‘global’ reach in that they operate within international marketplaces and see themselves as international players. The paper asks to what extent the important role of maturation with regard to the formation of expertise is being undermined by the pressurised nature of contemporary workplaces (in both the public and private sectors). It argues that conceiving the professional formation of knowledge workers as apprenticeship provides a way forward to improve the way employers construct and support that formation.

Keywords

Apprenticeship Knowledge workers Software engineering University contract researchers Expertise Trust Workforce development Workplace learning Expansive restrictive framework 

References

  1. Allen-Collinson, J. (2003) Working at a marginal ‘career’: the case of UK social science contract researchers, The Sociological Review, pp. 405–422.Google Scholar
  2. Alvesson, M. (2001). Knowledge work, ambiguity, image and identity. Human Relations, 54(7), 863–886.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Barrett, R. (2001). Labouring under an illusion? The labour process of software development in the Australian information industry. New Technology Work and Employment, 16(1), 18–34.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Barrett, R. (ed) (2005) Management, Labour Process and Software Development: Reality Bytes. Routledge, London, UK.Google Scholar
  5. Bell, D. (1973). The coming of post-industrial society. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  6. Brint, S. (2001). Professionals and the knowledge economy: rethinking the theory of postindustrial society. Current Sociology, 49(4), 101–132.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Brown, P., Lauder, H., & Ashton, D. (2008). Education, globalisation and the knowledge economy. London: Teaching and Learning Research Programme.Google Scholar
  8. Brown, P., & Hesketh, A. (2004). The mismanagement of talent. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  9. Bryson, C., & Tulle-Winton, E. (1994). A survey of contract research staff in UK universities. London: AUT.Google Scholar
  10. Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals (CVCP). (1996). A concordat to provide a framework for the career management of contract research staff in universities and colleges. London: CVCP.Google Scholar
  11. Cortada, J. W. (1998). Rise of the knowledge worker. Boston: Butterworth-Heinemann.Google Scholar
  12. Drucker, P. (1959). Landmarks of Tomorrow: A report on the new ‘post-modern’ world. New York: Harper and Row.Google Scholar
  13. Drucker, P. (1969). The age of discontinuity. New York: Harper and Row.Google Scholar
  14. Felstead, A., Fuller, A., Jewson, N., & Unwin, L. (2009). Improving working as learning. London: Routledge. in press.Google Scholar
  15. Felstead, A., Jewson, N., & Walters, S. (2005). Changing places of work. Palgrave Macmillan: Basingstoke.Google Scholar
  16. Fenwick, T. (2004). Learning in portfolio work: anchored innovation and mobile identity. Studies in continuing education, 26(2), 229–246.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Fox, A. (1974). Beyond contract: Work power and trust relations. London: Faber.Google Scholar
  18. Freedman, E., Patrick, H., Somekh, B., McIntyre, D., & Wikeley, F. (2000). Quality conditions for quality research: guidance for good practice in the employment of contract researchers in education. Southwell: British Educational Research Association.Google Scholar
  19. Fuller, A., & Unwin, L. (2003). Learning as apprentices in the contemporary UK workplace: creating and managing expansive and restrictive participation. Journal of Education and Work, 16(4), 407–426.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Fuller, A., & Unwin, L. (2004). Expansive learning environments: Integrating organizational and personal development. In H. Rainbird, A. Fuller, & A. Munro (Eds.), Workplace learning in context. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  21. Fuller, A., & Unwin, L. (2008). Towards expansive apprenticeships. London: TLRP.Google Scholar
  22. Fuller, A., Unwin, L., Felstead, A., Jewson, N., & Kakavelakis, K. (2007). Creating and using knowledge: an analysis of the differentiated nature of workplace learning environments. British Educational Research Journal, 33(5), 743–759.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Guile, D. (2006). What is distinctive about the knowledge economy? Implications for education. In H. Lauder, P. Brown, J. A. Dillabough, & A. H. Halsey (Eds.), Education, globalisation and social change. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  24. Lave, J., & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation. New York: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  25. Livingstone, D., & Sawchuk, P. (2003). Hidden knowledge: Organised labour in the information age. Aurora: Garamond Press.Google Scholar
  26. Marks, A., & Lockyer, C. (2005). Professional identity in software work. In R. Barrett (Ed.), Management, labour process and software development. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  27. Office of Science and Technology (OST). (1998). Research careers initiative report, October 1998. London: OST.Google Scholar
  28. Quintas, P. (1994). Programmes innovation? Trajectories of change in software development. Information Technology and People, 7(1), 25–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Reich, R. (1991). The wealth of nations. London: Simon and Schuster.Google Scholar
  30. Rikowski, G. (1999). Nietzche, Marx and mastery: The learning unto death. In P. Ainley & H. Rainbird (Eds.), Apprenticeship: toward a new paradigm of learning. London: Kogan Page.Google Scholar
  31. Roberts, S. G. (2002). SET for Success. The supply of people with science, technology, engineering and mathematics skills. The report of Sir Gareth Roberts’ Review. London: HM Treasury.Google Scholar
  32. Robinson, H., Hall, P., Hovenden, F., & Rachel, J. (1998). Postmodern software development. The Computer Journal, 41(6), 363–375.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Scarborough, H., Swan, J., & Preston, J. (1999). Knowledge management: A literature review. London: IPD.Google Scholar
  34. Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of practice: Learning meaning and identity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  35. Williams, G., Blackstone, T., & Metcalf, D. (1974). The academic labour market. Amsterdam: Elsevier.Google Scholar
  36. Wolf, A. (2002). Does education matter? London: Penguin.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of EducationUniversity of SouthamptonSouthamptonUK
  2. 2.Department of Lifelong and Comparative EducationInstitute of Education University of LondonLondonUK

Personalised recommendations