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'Knowledge workers' as the new apprentices: the influence of organisational autonomy, goals and values on the nurturing of expertise

By Alison Fuller and Lorna Unwin


This paper explores the concept of apprenticeship in the context of the professional formation of knowledge workers. It draws on evidence from research conducted in two knowledge intensive organizations: a research-intensive, elite university; and a ‘cutting edge’ software engineering company. In the former, we investigated the learning environments of contract researchers, whilst in the latter we focused on the learning environments of software engineers. Both organisations have ‘global’ reach in that they operate within international marketplaces and see themselves as international players. The research in the university and the software engineering company was conducted as part of a larger project that investigated work and learning across diverse public and private occupational sectors (Felstead et al 2009). The research evidence about the workplace learning and career formation experiences of these knowledge workers is explored using aspects of the expansive – restrictive framework to compare the environments in terms of three themes: organisational goals and workforce development; expertise and trust; and, opportunities to expand learning. The paper argues that conceiving the professional formation of knowledge workers as apprenticeship provides an approach which can improve the way employers construct and support that formation

Topics: LC, HD28
Year: 2010
OAI identifier:
Provided by: e-Prints Soton

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