Handbook of Research on Managing Managers
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Handbook of Research on Managing Managers

Edited by Adrian Wilkinson, Keith Townsend and Gabriele Suder

This book explores the changing role of managers in the workplace. In recent years, there has been considerable debate on the future of management, with both pessimistic and optimistic views being put forward. However, in the wake of delayering, downsizing, re-engineering and the pursuit of leanness, the more gloomy perspective has gained currency, especially in the popular managerial literature, and some have pronounced the end of management altogether. Some paint a more optimistic picture of managers and managers’ work with roles being transformed rather than replaced and the new organisational context providing more demanding work but greater autonomy and increased skill development. With contributions from experts in the field, this book is concerned with the way organisations manage their managers and how this continues to evolve with reference to global issues.
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Chapter 7: Professions and managers

Mike Dent


For managers, professionals are an interesting, not to say challenging, group with which to engage. The professions more generally are an intriguing phenomenon given their general claim to some degree of autonomy and right to self-management. These claims are based on their specialist knowledge and skills (Brint, 1994, p. 3; Freidson, 1994, p. 16; Macdonald, 1995, p. 1). In the West some of the professions can claim roots that go back to medieval times (Krause, 1996), and all will assert their contemporary relevance. Professions, or some of them, have real power to sustain an effective jurisdiction (Abbott, 1988, pp. 19–20) and this limits the ability of managers to exert direct control. Nevertheless, their continuing survival within capitalist market economies has at times seemed strange, given their claim to protected status within labour markets. Certainly they have been seriously challenged in recent times, in particular their claims to work autonomy and right to self-management. Among the challengers have been the managers. This chapter examines the research literature on how the professions are managed and with what consequences. In order to address the argument this chapter is organized as follows: Section 1 offers a brief history of the professions, their differences and similarities, as well as the main approaches to their sociological and organizational analysis.

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