Call for Papers
Professional service organizations (PSOs), such as accounting, law, architecture,
advertising and engineering firms, have distinctive governance and organizational arrangements, which are currently adopted
by many contemporary organizations. Indeed, PSOs are currently seen as the fastest growing segment of the Western population
of organizations (or organizational work units). How can society at large gain from these professionals through better organizing
(including perhaps more self-organizing)? It is known that the professional organizational prototype carries elements of the
bureaucratic, entrepreneurial and voluntary organization. Yet, the operating logic and dynamics of the professional organization/group
differ significantly from these other organizational forms. This is a direct consequence of its service character that requires
direct interaction with clients and a strong focus on the development of professional knowledge.
These and other characteristics of PSOs bring with them sets of managerial/leadership, organizing and behavioural challenges that are imperfectly understood and insufficiently studied. Key, for instance, in any professional type work setting is a strong need among many professionals 'to learn' and at the same time to improve the quality of their work. This learning occurs typically in close cooperation with bosses, co-workers, mentors, clients and external advisors. Plus, increasingly, use is made of new information and knowledge technologies. Such processes of learning and changing seem necessary because most professional work is dealing with an increasing variety of needs of consumers and other relevant stakeholders.
We are thus challenged to develop new and acceptable/improved arrangements for high-quality professional work. This type of work calls for particular leadership styles, (change) strategies, organizational and HRM practices as well as governance modes. Exactly what kind and amount of these behaviours, strategies and work or change practices will prove successful for the harnessing of professional effort and learning is not completely known, but long-term societal development will be affected by our ability to learn on this score. These are key questions which we seek to answer in our Standing Working Group.
Scholars of professional service firms, the professions, professionals, professionalization, and the leadership thereof who investigate these issues within e.g. hospitals, universities, public-sector organizations as well as professional service firms/settings should find a stimulating home in this eclectic standing workgroup. We do encourage a variety of disciplinary and methodological approaches. These include sociological and psychological approaches, but also those rooted in combined anthropological, political, educational and/or managerial/leadership literatures. We welcome papers that develop innovative theoretical and empirical approaches for understating the role of the professions, professionals in contemporary organizational analysis and leadership of professional services organizations. In line with the conference theme we would particularly welcome papers which address the topic of 'design' in PSOs. This could be applied to work as well as organization design which could address the challenging aspect of cross-boundary working.