ABSTRACT

The set of tasks that have to be fulfilled in human communities and societies is so extensive, diverse and complex that no person is able to perform them all at an acceptable level (Mieg, 2006). As a consequence, division of labour is inevitable and societies have developed an abundance of professions, vocations and specialised tasks that require highly specialised knowledge and skills in specific domains, generally referred to as ‘expertise’ (Ericsson, 2006). Hence, the division of labour and professional expertise are two sides of the same coin. Framing expertise this way draws attention to a couple of associated aspects that are easily neglected. One is that experts have a monopoly on specific knowledge, skills and artefacts. They produce services and products, which they deliver to the community. However, the community is only partly able to assess the quality of the experts and their products, due to the gap in knowledge and skills between the experts and the lay people within the community. This creates a power balance that is easily tipped towards the experts, but which society tries to compensate for by setting standards for the way expert tasks are fulfilled and for the quality of the outcome. The second aspect is that the division in labour may shift over time. New professions may emerge and the tasks currently undertaken by experts will change requiring learning and gradual or revolutionary adaptations. The same applies when the context in which these tasks are performed changes. Drivers of task change vary from climate to technological change and from governmental action to population change (Talwar & Hancock, 2010). In these contexts experts have to adapt themselves, particularly in cases where their careers can span four decades or more. Besides continuously learning new knowledge, skills and arte - facts, experts also have to develop new products, services and ways of working. Experts who actively engage in these changes have a competitive edge (Gendron, Cooper & Townley, 2007).