Who is a Knowledge Worker?


Reich: Symbolic analyst [1].

Rifkin: “Creators, manipulators and purveyors of the stream of information that makes up the postindustrial, post-service, global economy.” [2]

Frenkel et al.: “A knowledge worker as anyone who 1. has a high level of creativity in their work, 2. requires to make extensive use of intellective skills, and 3. makes use of theoretical rather than contextual knowledge.”[3]

Babson College Professor Thomas Davenport has this to say about the concept of knowledge worker:

I certainly think there's a lot of fuzziness, ambiguity, and imprecision about what a knowledge worker is, and it's not a term most managers use easily. They don't say, "Okay, these are my knowledge workers, these are my non-knowledge workers." So despite the fact that the term's been around for a long time, very few people have been comfortable using it as a managerial concept [4].

Some Occupations/Professions considered as Knowledge Workers



IT and Software designers

Advertising people


Scientists and engineers


Art directors



Equity analysts

Credit analysts

Newspaper editors


1. R. Reich, The Work of Nation: Preparing Ourselves for 21st –Century Capitalism, London, Simon Schuster, 1991.

2. J. Rifkin, The end of Work: The Decline of the Global Workforce and the Dawn of the Post Market Era, penguin, London, 2000.

3 .S. Frenkel, M. Korczynski, L.Donohue, and K. Shire, “Re-constituting Work: Trends towards Knowledge Work and Info-normative Control”, Work, Employment and Society, Vol. 9, No. 4, 1995, 773-96.

4. An interview in Ubiquity Magazine, available online at:

Knol Number 72
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