Risky business: How professionals and professional fields (must) deal with organizational issues

  • Noordegraaf M
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As professionals belong to occupational systems but also increasingly work inside organizations, new linkages between occupational and organizational domains are required, but they are difficult to develop. Occupational principles and professional standards are usually considered to be at odds with managerial and organizational control principles. This generates academic and practical dualisms. Either a return to professionalism is advocated in order to protect occupational spaces and ‘rescue’ professional work, or there is a move beyond professionalism in order to restrict autonomies and discipline professional work. This article argues that both stances are unsatisfactory and that new forms of organized professionalism are called for. Changing circumstances force professional services to respond to external changes that call for organizational capacities, also inside professional domains: (a) professionals develop new work preferences and seek organized work conditions; (b) professionals face new cases, which are difficult to categorize and call for well-organized multi-professional acts; (c) due to critical attention for case treatment and incidents, professionals face new risks that have to be managed. The article shows how these realities are incorporated in professional practices – albeit slowly – and it draws normative conclusions. Professionals must take organizing and managing more seriously and will have to develop organizational capacities. In addition, connective organizational standards must be established in order to strengthen the viability and legitimacy of professional services in demanding times.

Author-supplied keywords

  • organizations
  • organizing
  • professional services
  • professions
  • service pressures

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  • Mirko Noordegraaf

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