Levels of knowledge work

Another classification of knowledge work that Davenport suggest (see previous post) is based on the type of knowledge activity – finding, creating, packaging, distributing of applying knowledge. In this classification:

Finding knowledge is concerned with “understanding knowledge requirement, searching for it among multiple sources, and passing it along to the requester or user. Examples: librarian, competetive intelligence analyst”. Creating knowledge refers to “creating new knowledge. Examples: researchers in a pharmaceutical company, book authors.” Packaging knowledge involves “putting together knowledge created by others. Examples: publishing, reporters, editors”.  Distribution involves “creation of systems and processes to increase access to knowlege for others. Examples: those responsible for KM in organisations”. Finally, application includes “use and reuse of [existing]knowledge, without a lot of new knoweldge being created. Examples: accountants, nurses”.

This classification is perhaps a little bit too granular. Firstly, jobs based solely on “finding knowledge” type tasks are rare, instead this activity is integral to all other types (creating, applying, etc).  So I think we can safely do away with this as a distinct category. Secondly, distribution too is problematic as a distintc type of knowledge work.  As with finding type, jobs focused predominately on knowledge distribution are rare, plus the ease with which knowledge can be at present be shared and distributed over the web makes this category obsolete.

What we end up with then is three levels of knowledge work:

Level 1. Knowledge application
Level 2. Knowledge packaging/integration
Level 3. Knowledge creation


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