The term "knowledge work" was coined by Peter Drucker (1959, 1964, 1973) to describe what was then a new trend, an important segment of the workforce concerned primarily with knowledge and the manipulation of information (rather than people, produce or things)
Charles Savage (1995) describes a knowledge-focus as the third wave of human socio-economic development. The first wave was the Agricultural Age with wealth defined as ownership of land. In the second wave, the Industrial Age, wealth was based on ownership of Capital, i.e. factories. In the Knowledge Age, wealth is based upon the ownership of knowledge and the ability to use that knowledge to create or improve goods and services. Product improvements include cost, durability, suitability, timeliness of delivery, and security.
Retained knowledge provide an organization with knowledge assets, part of the overall value of its intellectual capital. In some cases organizations create patents around their assets, at which point the material becomes restricted intellectual property. In these knowledge-intensive situations, knowledge work plays a direct, vital role in increasing the financial value of a company.
Rapid global expansion of information-based transactions and interactions has dramatically increased demand for a workforce that is capable of performing these activities. Presently, probably a majority of work in North America might conceivably defined as knowledge work.
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