Combining diverse knowledge: knowledge workers' experience of specialist and generalist roles

Combining diverse knowledge: knowledge workers' experience of specialist and generalist roles Purpose – The aim of this paper is to contribute to understanding the nature of specialist and generalist human capital by exploring the ways in which knowledge workers view their experience of working in specialist and generalist roles in pharmaceutical firms in Ireland and the UK. Design/methodology/approach – The findings are based on interviews with 55 knowledge workers employed in a range of scientific, technical and managerial positions in four Irish and two UK firms located in the pharmaceutical sector. Interviews were also conducted with nine human resource/training and development managers within these six firms. Findings – The findings suggest that the categorisation of human capital as either specialist or generalist is too rigid and does not take account of the fact that individuals may themselves choose to shape their careers by investing in a range of education, training and development opportunities that will enable them to move between specialist and generalist roles. Originality/value – The paper unpacks the concepts of specialist and generalist human capital from an employee perspective and challenges the sharp distinction that is made between specialist and generalist human capital. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Personnel Review Emerald Publishing

Combining diverse knowledge: knowledge workers' experience of specialist and generalist roles

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Publisher
Emerald Publishing
Copyright
Copyright © 2011 Emerald Group Publishing Limited. All rights reserved.
ISSN
0048-3486
DOI
10.1108/00483481111154469
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Purpose – The aim of this paper is to contribute to understanding the nature of specialist and generalist human capital by exploring the ways in which knowledge workers view their experience of working in specialist and generalist roles in pharmaceutical firms in Ireland and the UK. Design/methodology/approach – The findings are based on interviews with 55 knowledge workers employed in a range of scientific, technical and managerial positions in four Irish and two UK firms located in the pharmaceutical sector. Interviews were also conducted with nine human resource/training and development managers within these six firms. Findings – The findings suggest that the categorisation of human capital as either specialist or generalist is too rigid and does not take account of the fact that individuals may themselves choose to shape their careers by investing in a range of education, training and development opportunities that will enable them to move between specialist and generalist roles. Originality/value – The paper unpacks the concepts of specialist and generalist human capital from an employee perspective and challenges the sharp distinction that is made between specialist and generalist human capital.

Journal

Personnel ReviewEmerald Publishing

Published: Aug 2, 2011

Keywords: Human capital; Specialist; Generalist; Knowledge workers; Learning; Pharmaceutical sector

References

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