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Knowledge Work Performance Measurement in the New Ways of Working Context

Research output: Book/ReportDoctoral thesisCollection of Articles

Details

Original languageEnglish
PublisherTampere University
Number of pages90
ISBN (Electronic)978-952-03-1055-4
ISBN (Print)978-952-03-1054-7
Publication statusPublished - 26 Apr 2019
Publication typeG5 Doctoral dissertation (article)

Publication series

NameTampere University Dissertations
Volume47
ISSN (Print)2489-9860
ISSN (Electronic)2490-0028

Abstract

Organisations have always looked for ways to improve their activities in order to remain competitive. To be able to be successful in the long term, it is essential that the plans and decisions are made based on relevant information and knowledge. Performance measurement can offer information for the managers where the biggest potential for improvement is in the current situation and to know after the change whether it has worked out as it was supposed to do. The current need for new performance measurement information has risen as more and more organisations have started to consider their knowledge workers as an asset instead of a cost. The New Ways of Working (NewWoW) concept is created to describe changes where the knowledge worker has the autonomy to choose how, when and where the work is done.

The need for general performance measurement is high as the NewWoW concept is still quite new and there are hardly any previous studies measuring the effectiveness of NewWoW practices. The literature contains many examples of how performance measurement has been examined in specific interventions in many research areas, for example facilities management or information technology. However, while the NewWoW context covers many research areas it should be managed and measured as a whole. Previous literature offers a good framework for research as performance measurement; knowledge work performance and typical measurement challenges are well known. However, there are not many empirical examples for measuring knowledge work performance, especially in the NewWoW context. There are some measurement tools for knowledge work performance, but the measurement focuses on results and the measures for drivers are mostly missing.

The purpose of this study is to understand how to measure knowledge work performance in the NewWoW context and to construct an analytical managerial tool to help measure the organisation’s current work practices and the impacts of NewWoW initiatives. In the theoretical section, this study builds a framework for knowledge work performance. The framework suggests that the areas of physical environment, virtual environment, social environment and individual work practices are drivers for well-being and productivity. The thesis uses previous performance measurement literature to build up measures for the context of new ways of working; secondly, it reflects on how the knowledge work performance measurement practices function in the new context. The study utilizes case studies and a constructive research approach to find solutions to the research problems. Pragmatic philosophy guides the research to provide practical tools for managers. This thesis summarizes the results of five research articles.

The thesis has two main results that fulfil the two purposes of the study. Firstly, the study presents a measurement model based on a general performance measurement development process with adjustments made to meet the special requirements of the NewWoW context. A theoretical framework for knowledge work performance is essential for understanding the context and thus, successful measurement in this context. Secondly, the study constructs and validates a SmartWoW (Smart Ways of Working) tool to support the planning and measuring of NewWoW initiatives. The tool is a survey-based measure, which is easy to adapt for different sizes of workplace initiatives. The tool has proven to have a high practical value as 40 organisations have chosen to utilize it.

The contribution of this thesis is that it presents performance measurement practices in the NewWoW context and offers empirical evidence on how it can be used to identify what should be changed and measure the impacts of changes. The theoretical knowledge work performance framework has been a critical success factor in adjusting general measurement practices to this context. Another contribution of the thesis is the SmartWoW tool and how it can overcome some of the recognized challenges of measurement and provide the necessary information. While both of the results fill the gaps left by previous studies, their value for managers is also high. Both of the results can be adopted as part of continuous management activities.

Keywords

  • performance, productivity, measurement, knowledge work, management, workplace, change, new ways of working

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