Knowledge Work in Inspection: Structures for Learning, Knowledge and Judgement

17 Pages Posted: 23 Oct 2014

Date Written: October 18, 2014


Nearly all inspectors are employed for their professional expertise but, paradoxically, being an inspector distances them from that expertise. Inspectors need knowledge on which to base inspection judgements. Knowledge is the basis of implementing policy or of innovating. How do they update knowledge?

Inspector knowledge work draws on flexible informal and formal learning structures in the organisation. These range from relationship based person contact groups, professional development groups, team meetings and then on to more formal means of learning. Much of the knowledge reported is explicit (formal) but there is strong evidence of process knowledge, know-how or tacit knowledge. The concept of ‘community of practice’ is important in understanding the personal basis of these groups and the role of friendship and trust amongst inspectors. The inspector, in the organisation and in the wider regulatory environment, has a mix of motivations and strategies for knowledge work. Some respondents undertook learning activities to protect reputation or credibility, for others it included a strategy of improving services.

The study reveals the substructure of knowledge work hidden in scholarly accounts of inspection behaviour and how sources and types of knowledge may well offer different inspection outcomes. The findings are valuable to organisations seeking to optimise their inspection capability especially around improvement.

Keywords: inspector knowledge, inspector innovation, inspector learning, inspection knowledge

Suggested Citation

Brady, John, Knowledge Work in Inspection: Structures for Learning, Knowledge and Judgement (October 18, 2014). Available at SSRN: or

John Brady (Contact Author)

Precepts ( email )

CAPPOQUIN, County Waterford
0035375335 (Phone)


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