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Cambridge Network: New Study Investigates Timeless ‘Craft’

04 May 2021
A new Annals study suggests that the concept of “craft” is better understood as a timeless alternative approach to any type of work in this era of machine learning.

Originally found at Cambridge Network.

The concept of “craft” is often narrowly applied to describe traditional approaches to work or niche movements with a nostalgic yearning for a simpler past. Yet a new article in the journal Academy of Management Annals led at Cambridge Judge Business School instead presents craft as a more fundamental approach to any type of work – in contrast to mechanistic methods in our era of artificial intelligence and machine learning.

“We propose a reconceptualisation of craft as a timeless approach to work that prioritises human engagement over machine control,” says the journal article, an interpretive review of 453 papers in 17 top management and organisation journals over the last century.

While there has been a notable revival of craft in specific sectors (the global boom in craft brewing being perhaps the best-known example), the review outlines how the general principles followed by craft brewers have much broader applicability and can be used to understand developments in any type of work – ranging from bespoke vehicle manufacturing, to software programming, to strategic leadership, to police work.

Yet despite such ubiquity, there has not been a dedicated theory to explain what distinguishes the “craft” approach to work. The new study therefore presents a framework that could be used as a “general theory for understanding alternative approaches to work against the backdrop of growing affordances of machine technology.”

Continue reading the original article at Cambridge Network.

Read the original research in Academy of Management Annals.

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