Sub-theme 08: [SWG] Management, Occupations and Professions in Social Context: The Emergence of New Professions and their Impact on the Established Field

Daniel Muzio
Newcastle University, United Kingdom
Trish Reay
University of Alberta, Canada
Lara Maestripieri
Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain

Call for Papers

As part of the EGOS Standing Working Group (SWG 08) on “Management, Occupations and Professions in Social Context”, this sub-theme focuses on the emergence and development of new professions, occupations and specialisms, such as management consultants, project managers, systems analysts and human resource managers. The traditional assumption in the literature has been that these ‘new’ professions hold distinctive types of expertise and are engaged in activities that are different from the remit of traditional professions; thus they require more entrepreneurial, managerial and informational workplace configurations (Reed, 1996; Fincham, 2012). In particular, their knowledge bases have been viewed as too fragmented, fluid and perishable to sustain traditional occupational closure regimes. Conversely, they have been thought to rely on alternative strategies of organizational colonization or marketization. Thus, managerial professions such as human resource management and project management are thought to succeed by proving their value by solving technical problems for their employers and by colonizing key organizational enclaves and positions in the bureaucratic structures they inhabit through process of ‘double closure’ (Ackroyd, 1996). At the same time, knowledge-based occupations such as management consultancy and advertising are thought to prioritize strategies of marketization, by engaging closely with clients and other stakeholders to continuously develop and commercialize new products and markets for their expertise (Reed, 1996; Fincham, 2006).
In many cases, the development and rise of new professions causes disruption to the established order. As Abbott (1988) pointed out, the relationships among different professions or occupational groups have been carefully negotiated over time and are sustained through highly institutionalized norms and practices. New professions or occupations that seek to expand may need to engage in sophisticated power dynamics to achieve their goals (David et al., 2013; Reay et al., 2006), and established professions may aggressively respond to such challenges in an attempt to maintain the status quo (Bucher et al., 2016). As such the development of new professions may be tied to jurisdictional disputes but perhaps also to the emergence of forms of occupational symbiosis (Suddaby & Muzio, 2015).
A recent body of literature (e.g. Dacin et al., 2002; Muzio et al.; 2011; Daudigeos, 2013; Kipping & Kirkpatrick, 2013; Hodgson et al., 2015, Maestripieri, 2016) focuses on how new managerial and expert based occupations are undergoing processes of professionalization. Interestingly, they are thought to do so in accordance with a new model of corporate professionalism which is increasingly skewed to the structures, practices, values and interests of the large corporations which employ the majority of these workers and their services. Innovative developments within these professional projects include: the development of new membership propositions (organizational memberships, multi-tiered membership), forms of closure (based on competences rather than qualifications), jurisdictions (international rather than national) and professionalization strategies (focused on showing market value rather than achieving legalistic forms of closure). Furthermore, the role, structure and membership of professional associations as intermediate bodies in this process – as they were intended in the traditional approaches to professionalization (Wilensky, 1964) – loses ground in favour of more hybridised mechanisms that merge professional and managerial principles (Noordgraaf, 2015).
Against the backdrop of these debates, this sub-theme seeks to explore how new managerial and organizational professions relate to (or challenge) traditional understandings of professionalism as a distinct ideology and work organizational form, and of professionalization as a purposeful occupational strategy. The following questions are indicative of our concerns but not meant to limit other approaches to the topic:

  • How do new professions conform or depart from established models of professionalism and professionalization?
  • What new strategies, practices and organizational models have these new professions developed as they pursue their occupational objectives?
  • How do established professions respond to the potential entry and growth strategies of new professions?
  • To what extent are new professions competing or collaborating with established ones in increasingly complex occupational ecologies?
  • How do these new professions interact with other actors in their fields such as employers, purchasers, regulators, standard setting bodies, and trade associations?
  • How is the role of professional associations changing in these new contexts?
  • How do these new professions differ in terms of their development trajectories and underlying strategies between national and occupational contexts?

Given the emerging and multi-disciplinary nature of our concerns we are open to a range of different methodologies (e.g. qualitative or quantitative analysis, mixed-method approaches and historical methods) and disciplinary backgrounds including healthcare, business history, critical accountancy, public administration, political science as well as organizational studies and sociology.



  • Abbott, A. (1988): The System of Professions: An Essay on the Division of Expert Labor. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • Ackroyd, S. (1996): “Organization Contra Organizations: Professions and Organizational Change in the United Kingdom.” Organization Studies, 17 (4), 599–621.
  • Bucher, S., Chreim, S., Langley, A., & Reay, T. (2016): “Contestation about Collaboration: Discursive Boundary Work among Professions.” Organization Studies, 37 (4), 497–522.
  • Dacin, M.T., Goodstein, J., & Scott, W.R. (2002): “Institutional theory and institutional change: Introduction to the special research forum.” Academy of Management Journal, 45, 43–56.
  • Daudigeos, T. (2013): “In their profession's service: How staff professionals exert influence in their organization.” Journal of Management Studies, 50 (5), 722–749.
  • David, R.J., Sine, Wesley, D., & Haveman, H.A. (2013): “Seizing Opportunity in Emerging Fields: How Institutional Entrepreneurs Legitimated the Professional Form of Management Consulting.” Organization Science, 24, 356–377.
  • Kipping, M., & Kirkpatrick, I. (2013): “Alternative Pathways of Change in Professional Services Firms: The Case of Management Consulting.” Journal of Management Studies, 50 (5), 777–807.
  • Fincham, R. (2006): “Knowledge work as occupational strategy: comparing IT and management consulting.” New Technology, Work and Employment, 21 (1), 16–28.
  • Fincham, R. (2012): “Expert Labour as a Differentiated Category: Power, Knowledge and Organisation.” New Technology Work and Employment, 27 (3), 208–223.
  • Hodgson, D., Paton, S., & Muzio, D. (2015): “Something Old, Something New? Competing Logics and the Hybrid Nature of New Corporate Professions.” British Journal of Management, 26 (4), 745–759.
  • Maestripieri, L. (2016): “Professionalization at work: The case of Italian management consultants.” ephemera: heory and politics in organization, 16 (2), 31–52.
  • Muzio, D., Hodgson, D., Faulconbridge, J., Beaverstock, J., & Hall, S. (2011): “New and Old Professionalism: The Case of Management Consultancy and Project Management.” 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.
  • Reay, T., Golden-Biddle, K., & Germann, K. (2006): “Legitimizing a new role: Small wins and micro-processes of change.” Academy of Management Journal, 49 (4), 977–998.
  • Reed, M.I. (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 Approaches to the Study of PSFS.” In: L. Empson, D. Muzio, J. Broschak & B. Hinings (eds.): Oxford Handbook of Professional Services Firms. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Wilensky, H.L. (1964): “The professionalization of everyone.” American Journal of Sociology, 70, 137–158.
Daniel Muzio is Professor of Professions and Organization at the University of Newcastle, UK, where he also directs the research group on Professions, Work and Organization. Daniel’s research focuses on professions, professional services firms and knowledge intensive occupations/organizations. Hw has published extensively on these topics in leading journals including the ‘Journal of Management Studies’, ‘Organization Studies’, ‘Human Relations’ and the ‘Journal of Economic Geography’. He is a founding editor of the ‘Journal of Professions and Organization’, an associate editor of the ‘Journal of Management Studies’, and a co-editor of the ‘Oxford Handbook of Professional Services Firms’. He serves on the boards of ‘Organization Studies’ and ‘Human Relations’. Daniel has organized streams/symposia at international conferences, including the Academy of Management, Critical Management Studies, the International Sociological Association, World Congress of Sociology and the International Labour Process Conference.
Trish Reay is Professor in the Department of Strategic Management and Organization at the University of Alberta School of Business in Edmonton, Canada. Her research interests include organizational and institutional change, professions and professional identity. She has studied these topics in health care settings and in family firms. Published articles from these research streams appear in ‘Academy of Management Journal’, ‘Organization Studies’, ‘Journal of Management Studies’, ‘Work and Occupations’, and ‘Family Business Review’. Furthermore, Trish is Editor-in-Chief of ‘Organization Studies’.
Lara Maestripieri holds a PhD in Sociology and Social Research at the University of Trento, Italy, where she graduated with a PhD thesis focusing on professionalism in management consultancy. Since 2017, she is the Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellow at the Institute of Government and Public Policies (IGOP) of the Universitat Autònoma Barcelona, Spain, studying gender and social vulnerability in an intersectional perspective. Main interests of research are focused on labour transformation in the post-industrial society, and in particular: marginalized groups on the labour markets (women and young); gender and social vulnerability; emerging professions. Published articles from professions and organization research stream appear in ‘ephemera: theory and politics in organization’, ‘Recherches Antropologiques et Sociales’, ‘CAMBIO’, and 'Sociologia del Lavoro’.