Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Knowledge Workers, the New Capitalists

The Next Society, Peter Drucker, 2001

Attracting [knowledge workers] and holding them will become the central task of people management. We already know what does not work: bribery. In the past ten or fifteen years many businesses in America have used bonuses or stock options to attract and keep knowledge workers. It always fails.

Of course knowledge workers need to be satisfied with their pay, because dissatisfaction with income and benefits is a powerful disincentive.

The incentives, however, are different. The management of knowledge workers should be based on the assumption that the corporation needs them more than they need the corporation. They know they can leave. They have both mobility and self-confidence. This means they have to be treated and managed as volunteers, in the same way as volunteers who work for not-for-profit organizations.  The first thing such people want to know is what the company is trying to do and where it is going. Next, they are interested in personal achievement and personal responsibility, which means they have to be put in the right job. Knowledge workers expect continuous learning and continuous training. Above all, they want respect, not so much for themselves but for their area of knowledge. In that regard, they have moved several steps beyond traditional workers, who used to expect to be told what to do, even though lately they have increasingly come to expect to participate. Knowledge workers, by contrast, expect to make the decisions in their own area [..].

The knowledge society is a society of seniors and juniors rather than of bosses and subordinates [..].

Knowledge workers, collectively, are the new capitalists. Knowledge has become the key resource, and the only scarce one. This means that knowledge workers collectively own the means of production. But as a group, they are also capitalists in the old sense: through their stakes in pension funds and mutual funds, they have become majority shareholders and owners of many large businesses in the knowledge society.

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Read along with this article, I believe the economy, the nature of work will go to the way of Gore Associates. That is, of course, for work that has not disappeared already in which case (and also because of this), wide social safety need is needed. Our preference is through a digital currency rather than a centrally managed bureucracy.