Sub-theme 08: (SWG) Management, Occupations and Professions as Contested Terrains

Stefan Heusinkveld
VU University Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Andreas Werr
Stockholm School of Economics, Sweden
Daniel Muzio
University of Newcastle, United Kingdom

Call for Papers

As part of the EGOS Standing Working Group (SWG) 08 on “Management, occupations and professions in social context”, this sub-theme engages with the increasing proliferation and specialization of ‘new’ management occupations or ‘emerging professions’ (Muzio et al., 2011) such as CSR, project management, health and safety management, and risk management to name a few. In particular, we focus on the redefinition, challenging or blending of occupational domains, knowledge and their boundaries (e.g. Bechky, 2003), the various impacts this has on private and public organizations, as well as the changing organization of the production and delivery of this knowledge through internal staff functions, internal consultancies or external professional service firms (PSFs).
Organizations have always been considered as a terrain for contests such as those between functional groups, different subcultures and the struggle of capital against labour. As new areas of management expertise emerge and gain influence (e.g. Reed, 1996), professional and occupational boundaries as well as inter-occupational relationships are likely to be challenged and redefined (Anteby & Chan, 2016). Professions and occupations have long been concerned with establishing and protecting their jurisdictions, knowledge and their boundaries from the rival claims of other groups (Abbott, 1988), but such issues become more complicated when enmeshed within organizational and managerial logics. A particular example is when ‘new’ management occupations or emerging professions increasingly define their raison d’être as spanning or breaking down knowledge boundaries. In this context, our stream focuses on inter, and intra-professional and occupational relationships, conflict and boundary work within organizations as well as in the broader political economy. New auditing legislation, for example, may have substantial implications, both nationally and transnationally, for relationships between different professions and occupations, including tax, accounting, risk management and consulting within global professional services firms.
The increasing specialization and professionalization of management increases the likelihood of struggles for influence and ownership, between and within occupational groups on a national and transnational level. At the same time, the emergence of new occupations, may not only lead to struggles over jurisdiction, but may also promote collaboration and the development of hybrid roles, practices, knowledge and competences (Noordegraaf, 2015). These struggles, and the ways they may or not may be resolved, are likely to have a wide variety of different effects on public and private organizations. Indeed, the ‘success’ of a professional project is associated with the support of, and impact on other organizations and professions (e.g. Kellogg, 2014; Abbott, 2005; Suddaby & Muzio, 2015). For instance, whilst healthcare institutions traditionally have to deal with different medical professions, the emergence and partial establishment of new managerial occupations such as Lean coaches may add important complexity.
Thus, the present theme draws attention to the complexity and importance of inter-professional and occupational relationships by developing our understanding of the mechanisms by, and through which new forms of management knowledge becomes established into management occupations, of how management occupations and professions drive, resist, and blend existing knowledge bases, boundaries and jurisdictions, as well as of how these mechanisms shape management and organizational practices more broadly (Heusinkveld et al., 2011).
The following questions are indicative of our concerns:

  • How are inter-occupational boundaries delineated, contested and repaired, and how do they connect to different organizational processes and outcomes?
  • What challenges and opportunities do the increasing specialization of management knowledge and occupations pose to professional service firms (PSFs) and professional service organizations (PSOs) and how can these be addressed?
  • What are the strategies available to emerging occupational and professional groups to establish stable positions?
  • How do processes of competition and collaboration between different management occupations shape the establishment of new forms of expertise within organizations (e.g. lean coaches, talent managers, health and safety officers) and in society (e.g. Lean consultants, CSR consultants)?
  • How is management practice affected by the proliferation and specialization of management occupations and their struggles for influence?

Given the emerging and multi-disciplinary nature of our concerns we are open to a range of different methodologies and disciplinary backgrounds including healthcare, business history, critical accountancy, public administration, political science as well as organizational studies and sociology.

For more information on “Management, occupations and professions in social context”, please see our webblog:

Based on this sub-theme we will be able to organize a special issue in Journal of Professions and Organization (JPO). The deadline for submissions to this special issue in JPO is October 31, 2017. For further information, please see the journal’s website:


  • Abbott, A. (1988): The System of Professions: An Essay on the Division of Expert Labor. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • Abbott, A. (2005): “Linked ecologies: States and universities as environments for professions.” Sociological Theory, 23 (3), 245–274.
  • Anteby, M., Curtis, K.C., & DiBenigno, J. (2016). “Three Lenses on Occupations and Professions in Organizations: Becoming, Doing, and Relating.” Academy of Management Annals, 10 (1), 183–244.
  • Bechky, B. (2003): “Sharing meaning across occupational communities: The transformation of knowledge on a production floor.” Organization Science, 14 (3), 312–330.
  • Heusinkveld, S., Sturdy, A., & Werr, A. (2011): “The co-consumption of management ideas and practices.” Management Learning, 42 (2), 139–147.
  • Kellogg, K. (2014): “Brokerage professions and implementing reform in an age of experts.” American Sociological Review, 79 (5), 1–30.
  • Muzio, D., Hodgson, D., Faulconbridge, J., Beaverstock, J., & Hall, S. (2011): “Towards corporate professionalization: The case of project management, management consultancy and executive search.” Current Sociology, 59 (4), 443–464.
  • Noordegraaf, M. (2015): “Hybrid professionalism and beyond: (New) Forms of public professionalism in changing organizational and societal contexts.” Journal of Professions and Organization, 2 (2), 187–206.
  • Reed, M. (1996): “Expert power and control in late modernity: An empirical review and theoretical synthesis.” Organization Studies, 17 (4), 573–597.
  • Suddaby, R., & Muzio, D. (2015): “Theoretical Perspectives on the Professions.” In: L Empson, D. Muzio, J. Broschack & B. Hinings (eds): The Oxford Handbook of Professional Services Firms. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 25–47.
Stefan Heusinkveld is Associate Professor at the VU University Amsterdam, The Netherlands, and acts as coordinator of the EGOS Standing Working Group (SWG) on “Management, Occupations and Professions in Social Context”. His research focuses on the production and consumption of management ideas and in particular the role of management consultants and management gurus.
Andreas Werr is Professor at the Stockholm School of Economics, Sweden, and the Head of its Centre for HRM and Knowledge Work. His research interests include management consultancy, the management of professional services and the nature and development of management knowledge.
Daniel Muzio is Professor of Professions and Organization at the University of Newcastle, UK, Editor of the ‘Journal of Professions and Organization’, and Associate Editor of the ‘Journal of Management Studies’. His research focuses on professions, professional services firms and knowledge intensive occupations/organizations.