The doctoral dissertations of the former Helsinki University of Technology (TKK) and Aalto University Schools of Technology (CHEM, ELEC, ENG, SCI) published in electronic format are available in the electronic publications archive of Aalto University - Aaltodoc.

Fluency Experiences in Knowledge-Intensive Individual Work and Collaboration

Heli Bergström

Doctoral dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Science in Technology to be presented with due permission of the School of Science for public examination and debate in Auditorium TU1 at the Aalto University School of Science (Espoo, Finland) on the 23rd of June 2011 at 12 noon.

Dissertation in PDF format (ISBN 978-952-60-4141-4)   [3461 KB]
Dissertation is also available in print (ISBN 978-952-60-4140-7)


Although knowledge-intensive work and leadership of knowledge workers have been studied from different viewpoints and with different approaches, the research in the field appears to be very fragmented. The existing literature concentrates on the nature of knowledge-intensive work, or productivity and effectiveness of it. Because of limited amount of scientific literature and lack of empirical evidence, significance of fluency is not well understood, although fluency is an important concept from viewpoint of e.g., effectiveness. Fluency refers to an expectation of planned, effective, and goal-oriented flow of work, which becomes apparent in fluency experiences.

Data of this multiple-case study, aiming at finding enablers and hindrances affecting fluency experiences in knowledge-intensive individual work and collaboration, was gathered using two methods: texts written by the informants, and semi-structured interviews. Data was analyzed using inductive-abductive reasoning to construct enablers and hindrances affecting fluency experiences based on the informants' responses. Factors related to fluency experiences were analyzed with help of relevant theory-based frameworks. Nine informants representing various professions participated in this study.

Contribution of this thesis is a generic model, which describes fluency experiences in knowledge-intensive individual work and collaboration. The model introduces knowledge workers' most common fluency experiences, and contextual and work factors related to them.

This thesis suggests that: 1) an individual's fluency experiences are partly independent of the environment, because an individual's experiences seem to emerge from individual emotional experiences, which are influenced by different external and internal triggers; 2) fluency is a core concept in producing positive results in knowledge-intensive individual work and collaboration, and that fluency should be considered as important a concept as productivity and effectiveness when evaluating knowledge-intensive work; and, 3) enablers and hindrances affecting fluency experiences in knowledge-intensive individual work and collaboration should be evaluated more thoroughly as factors affecting productivity and effectiveness of knowledge-intensive work, because fluency as a part of the work process has a significant influence on effectiveness and quality of work.

Keywords: fluency experiences, fluency, knowledge-intensive work, enablers, hindrances

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Last update 2011-07-08