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Paragrafer och Profit. Om kunskapsarbetets oklarhet

Alvehus, Johan LU (2006)
Abstract (Swedish)
Popular Abstract in Swedish

Kunskapsarbete framställs ofta som något som präglas av dolskhet eller oklarhet: produkten som säljs är oklar, resultatet är oklart och även själva arbetsprocesserna framställs ofta som oklara. Detta påverkar i sin tur den styrning som man kan förvänta sig i kunskapsintensiv verksamhet: en styrning som ofta handlar om personalen mer än om arbetet. I denna studie problematiseras och diskuteras arbetets organisering i en kunskapsintensiv verksamhet genom att själva arbetets roll lyfts fram, en ansats som i sammanhanget är mindre vanlig.



Avhandlingens empiriska grund är skattekonsulters arbete på en stor revisionsbyrå. Arbetet framstår i olika dager beroende på om man ser till hur... (More)
Popular Abstract in Swedish

Kunskapsarbete framställs ofta som något som präglas av dolskhet eller oklarhet: produkten som säljs är oklar, resultatet är oklart och även själva arbetsprocesserna framställs ofta som oklara. Detta påverkar i sin tur den styrning som man kan förvänta sig i kunskapsintensiv verksamhet: en styrning som ofta handlar om personalen mer än om arbetet. I denna studie problematiseras och diskuteras arbetets organisering i en kunskapsintensiv verksamhet genom att själva arbetets roll lyfts fram, en ansats som i sammanhanget är mindre vanlig.



Avhandlingens empiriska grund är skattekonsulters arbete på en stor revisionsbyrå. Arbetet framstår i olika dager beroende på om man ser till hur de nyblivna skattekonsulterna framställer det eller om man ser till de mer seniora konsulternas bild. I den tidigare bilden framhålls arbetets problemlösande karaktär medan den senare snarare handlar om att konstruera problem. Distinktionen handlar bl a om att juniora medarbetare utestängs från klientrelationer och arbetet i dem, medan den juridiska problemlösningen delegeras till dem. Samtidigt som detta leder till att det finns två sinsemellan olika bilder av vad arbetet handlar om så finns det en dimension som binder dem samman: timdebitering. Den utgör ett sätt att värdera det arbete som utförs i termer av hur många timmar som man kan debitera klienten, men det blir också ett sätt att inom organisationen skapa en bild av vad som är relevant arbete.



Utifrån de empiriska observationerna kring problemlösning, problemkonstruktion och timdebitering diskuteras kunskapsarbetets organisering i mer allmänna termer. Arbetet präglas av att man skapar en arbetsdelning mellan juniora och seniora, vilket skapar lönsamhet samtidigt som den genererar en bild av individuell progression. Genom att närmare belysa arbetets organisering kan också idén om kunskapsarbetets oklarhet i sig diskuteras. I stället för att ta en sådan oklarhet som en utgångspunkt för resonemang kring kunskapsintensiva företag så visar studien hur det "kunskapsintensiva" kan ses som en effekt av hur oklarheter och klarheter kring arbetet allokeras i relationer till klienter och personal. (Less)
Abstract
Knowledge work is often portrayed as hidden or ambiguous: an ambiguous product is sold, ambiguous results are delivered, and work processes are ambiguous. This in turn affects the type of management expected in knowledge-intensive organisations, where emphasis is on managing people rather than work. In this study, the organisation of knowledge work is discussed and problematized through analysis of the knowledge work itself, an approach rarely pursued in studies of knowledge-intensive firms.



The empirical basis of the dissertation is a study of tax consultancy at a major auditing firm. Differing images of tax consultancy work emerge depending on which point of view is emphasised, i.e. whether the work is seen through the... (More)
Knowledge work is often portrayed as hidden or ambiguous: an ambiguous product is sold, ambiguous results are delivered, and work processes are ambiguous. This in turn affects the type of management expected in knowledge-intensive organisations, where emphasis is on managing people rather than work. In this study, the organisation of knowledge work is discussed and problematized through analysis of the knowledge work itself, an approach rarely pursued in studies of knowledge-intensive firms.



The empirical basis of the dissertation is a study of tax consultancy at a major auditing firm. Differing images of tax consultancy work emerge depending on which point of view is emphasised, i.e. whether the work is seen through the eyes of junior or senior consultants. From the perspective of junior consultants, problem solving is emphasised while the senior's view is one of problem construction. This distinction is, among other things, based on the exclusion of juniors from client relations and the problem construction taking place within these relations, while problem solving work is often delegated to juniors. While this leads to differing views on work, there is another aspect connecting the views: chargeable time. Accounting for time spent on specific problems is a way of evaluating the work done, thereby producing an image of what is to be considered as relevant work.



From the empirical observations of problem solving, problem construction, and accounting for time, the organization of knowledge work is discussed in more general terms. Knowledge work is here described as characterized by a "radial" division of labour between junior and senior workers, which simultaneously produces profitability and an image of individual progression. Through studying the organizing of knowledge work the very idea of knowledge work being ambiguous can be discussed. Instead of understanding ambiguity as something inherent in knowledge-intensive work, this study shows how ambiguity and clarity can be understood as something which actors can allocate and manage, for example within relations to clients and within relations to other personnel. (Less)
Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
supervisor
opponent
  • Professor Jönsson, Sten, Gothenburg Research institute
organization
publishing date
type
Thesis
publication status
published
subject
keywords
Organisationsteori, Organizational science, Samhällsvetenskaper, Social sciences, Tax consultancy, Professional service firms, Knowledge intensive firms, Division of labour, Knowledge work, Ambiguity, Management of enterprises, Företagsledning, management
pages
232 pages
publisher
Lund Business Press
defense location
Crafoordsalen Holger Crafoords Ekonomicentrum Tycho Brahes väg 1 Lund
defense date
2006-03-24 13:00
ISBN
91-85113-09-3
language
Swedish
LU publication?
yes
id
df5b8122-db68-4c6a-b0e5-f41f42b1ce20 (old id 25377)
date added to LUP
2007-06-05 10:23:08
date last changed
2016-09-19 08:45:02
@misc{df5b8122-db68-4c6a-b0e5-f41f42b1ce20,
  abstract     = {Knowledge work is often portrayed as hidden or ambiguous: an ambiguous product is sold, ambiguous results are delivered, and work processes are ambiguous. This in turn affects the type of management expected in knowledge-intensive organisations, where emphasis is on managing people rather than work. In this study, the organisation of knowledge work is discussed and problematized through analysis of the knowledge work itself, an approach rarely pursued in studies of knowledge-intensive firms.<br/><br>
<br/><br>
The empirical basis of the dissertation is a study of tax consultancy at a major auditing firm. Differing images of tax consultancy work emerge depending on which point of view is emphasised, i.e. whether the work is seen through the eyes of junior or senior consultants. From the perspective of junior consultants, problem solving is emphasised while the senior's view is one of problem construction. This distinction is, among other things, based on the exclusion of juniors from client relations and the problem construction taking place within these relations, while problem solving work is often delegated to juniors. While this leads to differing views on work, there is another aspect connecting the views: chargeable time. Accounting for time spent on specific problems is a way of evaluating the work done, thereby producing an image of what is to be considered as relevant work.<br/><br>
<br/><br>
From the empirical observations of problem solving, problem construction, and accounting for time, the organization of knowledge work is discussed in more general terms. Knowledge work is here described as characterized by a "radial" division of labour between junior and senior workers, which simultaneously produces profitability and an image of individual progression. Through studying the organizing of knowledge work the very idea of knowledge work being ambiguous can be discussed. Instead of understanding ambiguity as something inherent in knowledge-intensive work, this study shows how ambiguity and clarity can be understood as something which actors can allocate and manage, for example within relations to clients and within relations to other personnel.},
  author       = {Alvehus, Johan},
  isbn         = {91-85113-09-3},
  keyword      = {Organisationsteori,Organizational science,Samhällsvetenskaper,Social sciences,Tax consultancy,Professional service firms,Knowledge intensive firms,Division of labour,Knowledge work,Ambiguity,Management of enterprises,Företagsledning,management},
  language     = {swe},
  pages        = {232},
  publisher    = {ARRAY(0x7e89868)},
  title        = {Paragrafer och Profit. Om kunskapsarbetets oklarhet},
  year         = {2006},
}