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Ambiguity, identity construction and stress amongst knowledge workers:Developing collective coping strategies through negotiations of meaning

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Mette Mogensen, Vibeke Andersen og Anders Buch AMBIGUITY, IDENTITY CONSTRUCTION AND STRESS AMONGST KNOWLEDGE WORKERS: DEVELOPING COLLECTIVE COPING STRATEGIES THROUGH NEGOTIATIONS OF MEANING AUTHORS: Mette Mogensen, Research Assistant DTU Management Engineering Denmark [email protected] Vibeke Andersen, Associate professor DTU Management Engineering Denmark [email protected] Christine Ipsen, Post.doc. DTU Management Engineering Denmark [email protected] ABSTRACT The point of departure for the project “Preventing stress in knowledge work” is the realisation that in order to work on preventing stress amongst ‘knowledge workers’, a new understanding of the concept of stress and knowledge work is required. This paper explores how stress and associated mechanisms for coping in knowledge work can be understood both in terms of ambiguity, continuous identity construction and as a social learning process among the employees. The aim of the project has thus been to conceptualise and organise preventative initiatives as ongoing negotiations of meaning among workers and leaders in the specific organisational contexts studied. The ambition of the present paper is to draw a preliminary picture of the empirical results and theoretical perspectives produced in the project so far, stressing that both are in the making. 1 Corresponding author: Vibeke Andersen, Associate professor DTU Management Engineering Produktionstorvet DTU – Building 423 2800 Kgs. Lyngby Denmark Tel dir. +45 4525 6032 Fax +45 4593 4467 [email protected] 1 1. The Problem ‘Knowledge work’ is often characterized by allowing a high level of decision latitude. Due to the nature of their work, knowledge workers often have a high degree of influence on how their work is performed and structured. When it comes to intellectual, creative, open ended and complex work, ‘self management’ is a predom

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