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Is the role of the manager about to be overtaken?


"When in the 21st century knowledge productivity becomes the driving force the knowledge workers will take charge. This may lead to the end of management as we understand it," says Joseph Kessels of Twente and Leiden Universities speaking at the Institute of Personnel and Development’s HRD 2000 conference today.

He argues that the traditional approaches to management, training and development will not provide the learning environment that is required for knowledge work. Each company needs to devise a corporate curriculum that turns the day-to-day workplace into a powerful learning environment. Though it is obvious that the knowledge economy may bring prosperity to those who become knowledge workers, the concept of the corporate curriculum may offer new opportunities for those whose school career was unsuccessful.

Kessels explains, "The various learning functions help individuals, irrespective of their formal education, to develop their talents and take part in various forms of knowledge work." Kessels explains that knowledge is crucial for continual improvements to existing products and services and for radical innovation. That is why knowledge workers are taking charge because this group of workers possesses the intellectual means of production through generating, transmitting and manipulating data, information and knowledge. For in today's 'new' economy the value of a product or service increases as knowledge is added. Once firms acknowledge that they are operating in a knowledge economy they then assign a strategic significance to knowledge productivity.

This in turn means that learning cannot be left to random chance. Organisations need to develop a corporate curriculum that should include the following functions:

  • Subject matter expertise
  • Problem solving
  • Reflective skills
  • Communication skills
  • Self regulation of motivation and affection
  • Peace and stability
  • Creative turmoil

As Kessler says, "The knowledge economy is here to stay. It requires flexible, adaptable and creative organisations with employees who are innovators and creators. In turn this requires the organisations to develop corporate curricula which enable learning to happen continuously and at all levels within the workforce."


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