Sub-theme 17: (SWG) Expert Power and Management: The Role of Management and Occupations in Shaping Organizations, Institutions and Societies

Andreas Werr
Stockholm School of Economics, Sweden
Andrew Sturdy
University of Bristol, UK
Claudia Gabbioneta
Newcastle University Business School, UK

Call for Papers

This sub-theme, the first of the new EGOS Standing Working Group on "Management, Occupations and Professions", is concerned with power. Expert groups have long been associated with 'knowledge-based authority', but we are concerned with expert power more widely and inclusively – that which is exercised, legitimated and contested by and through expert groups, including managers. This is important not only for our understanding of power and the changing nature of occupations, but in revealing their consequences in terms of how we are governed and the misuse of power.

In particular, we will focus on how those deploying management discourses and practices and their employers (e.g. professional service firms) are exercising a key role in developing and challenging institutions such as those in business, government, education and health. We will also encourage debate on the active role of management elites and their professional projects in globalization, seeking to explore how they have contributed to the construction or undermining of global and regional economic 'orders', including the development of transnational firms and governance structures.

The following (non-exhaustive) list of questions provides indications of the focus:

  • Who are the main actors, groups or firms involved in spreading management discourses and practices to new domains such as non-profit organizations, professional organizations as well as new geographical contexts (e.g. developing countries)? Does this vary with historical, sectoral or geographical context?
  • What are the mechanisms through which such diffusion occurs within organizations and what roles do experts play in any processes of translation?
  • What is the nature and characteristics of the management elite that drive the popularity of management discourses and practices to new domains (sectors, occupations, geographies)?
  • How do management elites and their organizations (e.g. professional organizations, professional service firms) strengthen and expand their power in different domains and geographical contexts?
  • What forms of resistance or challenge to the power of management discourses and practices are evident in what contexts? Who are the key agents and what competing forms of organizing and discourse are evident?
  • How are expert groups portrayed and exposed through corporate scandals and wider public debates on management?
  • What are the consequences of elites' use of management and management ideas, for organizations, societies and inequality?

We encourage contributions from a variety of theoretical perspectives and disciplines concerned with power, politics, elite theory and occupations/professions and especially welcome efforts to bridge often disconnected fields of research such as on the professions, occupations and the proliferation of management ideas.


Andreas Werr is Professor of Organization Studies at the Stockholm School of Economics, Sweden, and the Head of its Center for HRM and Knowledge Work. His research interests include management consultancy and the nature and development of management knowledge.
Andrew Sturdy is Professor and Head of the Department of Management at the University of Bristol, UK. His research relates directly to the sub-theme and includes a recent book – "Management as Consultancy" (with Wright and Wylie, Cambridge University Press, 2015).
Claudia Gabbioneta is Senior Lecturer of Accounting at Newcastle University Business School, UK. Her research interests include the role of financial market professionals in the spread of stock exchanges worldwide, their role in cases of corporate corruption, and the nature and content of their work.