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Title: Consultants as knowledge workers : an anglo-dutch comparison of consultancy
Author: Donnelly, Rory
Awarding Body: University of Manchester
Current Institution: University of Manchester
Date of Award: 2006
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The development of the knowledge economy is expected to require considerable change on the part of knowledge-intensive organisations and their employees. The emergent category of knowledge worker is considered to challenge many of the key features of the standard employment relationship, leading some commentators to claim that knowledge workers are the vanguards of a new employment relationship and new organisational arrangements. As archetypal knowledge workers, consultants are perceived to be representative of these changes and are considered to benefit substantially from the value of their intellectual capital and their employer's dependence upon their tacit knowledge - which is expected to enable them to exercise substantial control over their working arrangements and to operate as socalled 'free workers' (Knell, 2000). However, the free worker hypothesis has not been sufficiently validated by empirical research or tested in different national contexts. This study therefore explores the main propositions of the free worker hypothesis and considers the impact that employer management strategies and client demands have upon the free worker hypothesis. In addition, the study also introduces an international dimension to the analysis by examining the extent to which the free worker model is shaped by national context, through an Anglo-Dutch comparison of consultancy. The data collected for this study provides little support for the notion of the free worker. The results reveal that knowledge workers are able to exercise substantial discretion over their working arrangements, but that their freedom and ability to achieve high levels of temporal and locational flexibility is constrained by their own professional aspirations, their employer's management strategies and their position in a triangulated employment relationship. Through the identification of international differences in consultancy and the employment model, the data also demonstrates that the knowledge worker and these factors are shaped by environmental factors. The empirical data collected by this study therefore provides little support for the free worker hypothesis or its universal validity and instead highlights the need for the development of a more hybrid-based employment model to analyse the knowledge worker employment relationship.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available