The knowledge organization: Cultural priorities and workspace design

Tracy L. Meerwarth, Robert T. Trotter, Elizabeth K. Briody

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


General Motors Research and Development (R&D) management is planning to renovate portions of the Warren, Michigan, research facility. The study's goal was to help organizational leaders and planners understand culturally endorsed workspace architecture and design elements. Researchers used a rapid ethnographic assessment research design grounded in cognitive anthropology and methods to capture impressions and cultural requirements for workspace. This study adds to the existing body of knowledge at the intersection of workspace, culture, and user-oriented design by analyzing employee comments and research observations to construct a cultural model of R&D workspace. All model components underscore the cultural values of productivity and pragmatism. The authors examine features associated with the workspace productivity model, behaviors associated with the workspace, and differences in workspace perceptions and behaviors by organizational role. Findings refine the definition of knowledge worker culture and suggest that an orientation to productivity reflects broader American cultural values including pragmatism, individualism, and effectiveness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)437-454
Number of pages18
JournalSpace and Culture
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2008


  • Knowledge-worker culture
  • Pragmatism
  • Productivity
  • R&D culture
  • User-oriented design
  • Workspace effectiveness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Urban Studies
  • Tourism, Leisure and Hospitality Management


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