Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Business


Knowledge workers are critical resources in the 21st-century workplace and yet they are significantly under represented in the literature when compared to research devoted to managers, leaders and entrepreneurs. The literature tends to focus on the commodity of knowledge, rather than the people who possess the knowledge. Also much of the literature considers knowledge workers at arms’ length or under the umbrella of preexisting framework’s or rigid command-and-control environments that represent neither the 21st-century workplace nor the requirements of Industry 4.0. This research set out to address the gap found in the knowledge worker and expertise literature (with the two constructs considered “sensitising concepts” for this research), which have not given individuals’ ability, aptitudes, attitudes and capacity to use information sufficient consideration. It found that the distinguishing aspect for this group is their mindset and what they know about themselves not their technical expertise that makes the difference.

Using a Constructivist Grounded Theory methodology (based on the work of Charmaz 2014) this research used intensive semi-structured interviews for data collection and validation, a three-phased coding approach, constant comparison to the literature and memoing for the capturing of insights to identify and map the characteristics and attributes of a knowledge-based professional. The term “knowledge-based professional” was used to overcome deficiencies identified in the literature related to the term “knowledge worker”.

FoR codes (2008)




Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.