What is the contribution of personal information management systems (PIMS) to the Working Model and personal work system of knowledge workers?

Gregory, Mark Roger (2017). What is the contribution of personal information management systems (PIMS) to the Working Model and personal work system of knowledge workers? PhD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0000eb50


The thesis reports research into a phenomenon which it calls the personal working model of an individual knowledge worker.

The principal conjecture addressed in this thesis is that each of us has a personal working model which is supported by a personal work system enabled by a personal information management system. For some people, these are well defined; for most they are not even explicit. By means of structured self-reflection aided by conceptual knowledge modelling within the context of a process of action learning they can be improved. That personal working model is predicted by Ashby's law of requisite variety and by the good regulator theorem of Conant and Ashby. The latter theorem states that the only good regulator of a system is a model of that system.

The thesis and the work it reports result from a systemic approach to identifying the personal information management system and personal work system which together contribute to the personal working model. Starting with abductive conjecture, the author has sought to understand what models are and to explore ways in which those models can themselves be expressed. The thesis shows how a new approach to the conceptual modelling of aspects of the personal knowledge of knowledge worker was designed, built and then used. Similarly, the actual data used by a knowledge worker had to be stored, and for this purpose a personal information management system was also designed. Both these artefacts are evaluated in accordance with principles drawn from the literature of design science research. The research methodology adopted in the first phase of the research now ending also included a relatively novel approach in which the PhD student attempted to observe himself over the last five years of his PhD research – this approach is sometimes called autoethnography. This autoethnographic element is one of a number of methods used within an overall framework grounded by the philosophical approach called critical realism.

The work reported in the thesis is initial exploratory research which, it is planned, will continue in empirical action research involving mentored action learning undertaken by professional knowledge workers.

Viewing alternatives

Download history


Public Attention

Altmetrics from Altmetric

Number of Citations

Citations from Dimensions

Item Actions