Table of Contents

Perspectives on Contemporary Professional Work

Perspectives on Contemporary Professional Work

Challenges and Experiences

New Horizons in Management series

Edited by Adrian Wilkinson, Donald Hislop and Christine Coupland

How is the world of professions and professional work changing? This book offers both an overview of current debates surrounding the nature of professional work, and the implications for change brought about by the managerialist agenda. The relationships professionals have with their organizations are variable, indeterminate and uncertain, and there is still debate over the ways in which these should be characterized and theorized. The contributors discuss these implications with topics including hybrid organizations and hybrid professionalism; the changing nature of professional and managerial work; profession and identity; and the emergence of HRM as a new managerial profession.

Chapter 8: Agents of the network society: spatial mobility patterns among managerial and professional workers

Donald Hislop

Subjects: business and management, human resource management, organisational behaviour


Spatial mobility has historically been an intrinsic element of a number of jobs, such as driving, or sales work. However, many contemporary writers argue that for a growing proportion of workers, the need to undertake work-related journeys between diverse locations is an increasingly important element of their work. For example, Faulconbridge et al. (2009) argue that such mobility patterns help ‘produce’ global firms. Similarly, an intrinsic element of Castells’s (1996) concept of the network society is that the ‘flow’ of workers (as well as objects, knowledge, information, culture) plays a key role in sustaining and reproducing contemporary business organizations. The focus here is narrowly on managerial and professional workers, who are argued to be a group of workers particularly affected by this trend towards increased levels of work-related spatial mobility. For example, for lawyers and architects who work within global firms international business travel represents an intrinsic element of their work, and an activity they regularly undertake (Faulconbridge et al., 2009). In examining work-related mobility an important distinction can be made between work-related travel and commuting, with commuting involving travel between a person’s place of residence and their workplace, while work-related business travel involves travel between different locations that people are required to undertake in carrying out their work (Vartiainen et al., 2007). The focus here is exclusively on work-related business travel.

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