Managing knowledge work

When first given our topic- Power and Politics, we were also given the task to do resear4ch and read around our particular field. During this time we shared useful and meaningful information that contributed to our general knowledge and understanding of the topic. Since we would update each other and teach one another the specific fields such as ‘introduction to power’ or the specified case study applied to illustrate the topic, we not only helped our former members to learn new material, but learned a great deal ourselves.

This is supported by the study ‘Levels of Processing’, (Craik and Lockhart, 1972) claim that information can be taken in at three ascending levels; phonetic, the level by which the least information is stored and remembered by a person; visual, with an increased recall rate and semantic, where the information is understood and thus remembered more easily. Craik and Lockhart claim that when we only see what a word looks like or hear its sound; it is not processed in our brains as accurately and often not as long as if we applied meaning to it.

A similar form of argument could be taken on about learning styles, in a class room setting, in a work environment or, like in our case, a group presentation. By teaching each other the work, not only did we give the members an insight to our specific topics, but turned bulks of text and research into meaningful information. (

Another theory that can be applied to explain organisational behaviour in the run up to our presentation is that of Behaviour modification. Skinner B. 1971, proposed two models, Classical Conditioning and Operant Conditioning which advertise the idea of learning by association and learning by consequence, respectively. In our group, one of the girls was struggling with doing her work accurately and on time, and although she received much support from our group, she did not do very well until the last meeting before the presentation.

This came as a surprise and could be explained by classical conditioning- when she started to associate her failure to bring in work on time with seeing our group exposed to stress and turmoil, she learnt that her contribution to the project was a vital part of the preparation and final presentation of the work. (

More evidently, we practiced operant conditioning with one particular member, knowingly or not, by showing her the consequences of not attending our meetings. We applied the method of punishment- by speaking to her harshly and telling her off for letting down our group. Although it was not effective at the time of our preparation since she continued to miss our meetings, when in her presentation she was not prepared well and repeated many things we had already said and delivered a bad summary of her field, she may have learnt from her consequences and will put more effort into her next group work.


In summary, the grade we received for our presentation seems to be an accurate reflection of the work we presented and more importantly, a fair portrait of the lacking organisational behaviour in our team. Although we had motivational factors that pushed all of our members to try hard for this presentation, the lack of structure in our group in terms of leadership and team roles contributed to a loss of these motivational factors. Moreover, the vagueness and uncertainty of preparation work due to a lack of effort and perhaps ability meant we could not apply appropriate learning techniques that would help the members understand their topic better or understand the importance of their input. Had we established a leader and drawn up a plan with measurable targets, then the behaviour within the group would have been better understood, more organised and been more effective to contribute to meeting deadlines and producing a better presentation.


1. Business Balls ‘Tuckman forming storming norming performing model’ 9thMay2012)

2. Gerstmann P. PGA group ‘Team roles & group effectiveness – Firo and Belbin Contrasted’ (Accessed 9thMay2012)

3. Newell S. Robertson M. Scarbrough Swan J.: Managing knowledge work and innovation 2nd Edition 2009 Published by Palgrave Macmille

4. Newell S. Robertson M. Scarbrough Swan J.: Managing knowledge work and innovation 2nd Edition 2009 Published by Palgrave Macmille

5. Changing Minds ‘Extrinsic Motivation’ (Accessed10thMay2012)

6. Changing Minds ‘Intrinsic Motivation’ (Accessed10thMay2012)

7. Powerful words ‘Motivation Why people behave in a certain way. Why do people do what they do?’ (Accessed10thMay2012)

8. Business Balls ‘ Maslow’s hierarchy of needs’