Challenges and Experiences
New Horizons in Management series
Edited by Adrian Wilkinson, Donald Hislop and Christine Coupland
Chapter 9: The ambiguities of ‘managed professionalism’: working in and with IT
We begin this chapter by reflecting upon a simple distinction. The notion of ‘profession’ may be used as a noun and/or as an adjective. In the former case, specific occupations are referred to as professions by virtue of the control they exercise over the performance of particular tasks, including the designation of who may legally undertake such work. Such occupational control (Johnson, 1972) may be direct, as when states pass laws or grant charters permitting occupational associations to determine the rules and regulations for undertaking professional practice or when states directly employ professionals to undertake these decisions on their behalf (Macdonald, 1995). Different researchers have explored (and emphasized) different aspects of what control entails. That is, how much control over what types of resources is required for an occupation to be considered and classified as a profession? For some, control pre-eminently involves an exclusive, socially recognized claim to serve a particular market (Larson, 1977; Macdonald, 1995; Wilensky, 1964). In other words, professionalization is a form of social closure (Weber, 1978: 341 and passim), through which strict control of a labour market is exercised. In this case, a profession is a licence to practise while professionalization creates monopolies of service provision. Thus, market closure constitutes a significant part of what Larson (1977) refers to as the ‘professional project’, that is, the seeking out of social recognition and legitimation as a profession.
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