Sub-theme 08: [SWG] Occupational Membership, Careers and Resources in Flux

Daniel Muzio
University of York, United Kingdom
Stefanie Gustafsson
University of Bath, United Kingdom
Ruthanne Huising
emlyon business school, France

Call for Papers

This sub-theme examines changes in the social composition, career paths and resources of managerial and professional occupations. We return to and extend fundamental questions about who is doing what work, how they construct careers, and how mandates are built in light of ongoing shifts in the geographic mobility of jobs and workers (Yu et al., 2015), changes in relations with markets and clients (Gustafsson et al., 2018; Huising, 2015), the movement of work into organizations and cross-occupational teams (Bucher et al., 2016) and the emergence of new occupations and ways of working (Fayard et al., 2017).
The literature (Sklair, 2001; Khurana, 2007) has long linked both professionalization and the emergence of the modern managerial class to an elite formation process and thus intertwined with class, gender, ethnicity and sexuality. Whilst a sizeable literature documents the demographic composition of traditional professions (Witz, 1991; Davies, 1996; Evetts, 1996; Sommerlad & Sanderson, 1998; Bolton & Muzio, 2007; Gorman & Kmec, 2009; Gorman, 2015), less is known about the situation in the new managerial occupations emerged over the last two decades. This is important not only because these occupations increasingly represent an important arena in the competition for ‘life chances’, but also because they may relate to concepts such class, gender, ethnicity, and sexuality differently from the traditional professions. Furthermore, within these workplaces, demographic differences and shifts may also affect issues such as work coordination (DiBenigno & Kellogg, 2014), team performance (Gardner, 2015), innovation (Reihlen & Werr, 2012; Malhotra et al., 2016) and other aspects of work.
Relatedly, occupational careers are increasingly in flux. This is partly connected to their demographic and geographic transformation as professional and managerial occupations are broadening or redirecting their recruitment pools and creating new career models (Malhotra et al., 2010; Malhotra, Smets & Morris, 2016), whilst also reflecting the increasing organizational location and market orientation of such work. As new career roles are created that transcend the traditional boundaries of managerial and professional occupations (Empson et al., 2013), their commitment and primary identification may shift from the once professional concerns of the occupational community to the employing organization or the client. In this context, these occupations are exposed to increasingly sophisticated identity work technologies and controls as they are socialized into increasingly commercial values and priorities (Alvesson & Willmott, 2002; Alvesson et al., 2015).
Finally, as professional and occupational work are increasingly embedded in organizations and involve intense cross-occupational work, new resources are needed to protect autonomy in decision-making and jurisdictions over tasks. Beyond specialized knowledge and expertise (Abbott, 1988), ideologies (O’Mahoney & Sturdy, 2016), values (Fayard et al., 2017; Wright et al., 2017), identities (Ahuja, 2017), and relationships (Huising, 2015; Sandefur, 2015) are increasingly recognized as important resources. The array of resources and their relative efficacy within and across managerial and occupational roles requires more attention in shifting environments.
In line with the Colloquium theme of “Englightening the Future: The Challenge for Organizations”, these changing demographic profiles, career paths and possibilities, identities and resources, the processes through which they emerge, and the tensions and anxieties they generate in everyday lived experiences in managerial and professional occupations are at the center of this sub-theme. We are interested in work that relates generally to the topics identified above, but especially welcome papers that focus on the following themes and questions:
Research that examines the demographic composition of new managerial occupations and its potential implications for managerial, professional and occupational work, including:

  • What are the meanings attached to class, gender, ethnicity and sexuality in new occupations? How are these different to traditional professions? If at all?

  • How do new managerial occupations challenge or potentially reproduce traditional socio-demographic norms that have remained prevalent in the professions?

  • How do demographic changes influence how those in occupational and managerial roles work together within and across roles?

Research on career possibilities and paths in new managerial and professional occupations, including:

  • What are the various sources and meanings of career and career progression in new managerial and professional occupations? How do these differ and potentially challenge previously established ones?

  • What is the interplay between new career paths and structures and the nature and norms of occupational work?

  • How are new career paths managed by occupational members, their employing organizations and occupational institutions? And what forms of ‘career work’ do these actors engage in?

Research that examines the resources required in a shifting occupational landscape, including:

  • While specialized knowledge and skills have traditionally been the central resource through which occupational and managerial roles build and maintain jurisdiction, what other resources are used in relation to changing demographics and work contexts? How and where are these developed, contested, and maintained? And who controls access to them?

  • How do identified alternative resources – values, identities, relations – work to build and maintain jurisdiction in changing labor markets and organizations?



  • Alvesson, M., & Willmott, H. (2002): “Identity regulation as organizational control: Producing the appropriate individual.” Journal of Management Studies, 39 (5), 619–644.
  • Alvesson, M., Karreman, D., & Sullivan, K. (2015): “Professional Service Firms and Identity.” In: L. Empson, D. Muzio, J. Broschak & B. Hinings (eds.): The Oxford Handbook of Professional Service Firms. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 403–424.
  • Abbott, A. (1988): The System of Professions. An Essay on the Division of Expert Labor. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • Ahuja, S., Nikolova, N., & Clegg, S. (2017): “Paradoxical identity: The changing nature of architectural work and its relation to architects’ identity.” Journal of Professions and Organization, 4 (1), 2–19.
  • Bucher, S.V., Chreim, S., Langley, A., & Reay, T. (2016): “Contestation about collaboration: Discursive boundary work among professions.” Organization Studies, 37 (4), 497–522.
  • DiBenigno, J., & Kellogg, K.C. (2014): “Beyond occupational differences: The importance of cross-cutting demographics and dyadic toolkits for collaboration in a US hospital.” Administrative Science Quarterly, 59 (3), 375–408.
  • Empson, L., Cleaver, I., & Allen, J. (2013): “Managing partners and management professionals: Institutional work dyads in professional partnerships.” Journal of Management Studies, 50 (5), 808–844.
  • Fayard, A.L., Stigliani, I., & Bechky, B A. (2017): “How Nascent Occupations Construct a Mandate: The Case of Service Designers’ Ethos.” Administrative Science Quarterly, 62 (2), 270–303.
  • Gardner, H. (2015): “Teamwork and Collaboration in Professional Services Firms.” In: L. Empson, D. Muzio, J. Broschak & B. Hinings (eds.): The Oxford Handbook of Professional Service Firms. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 374–402.
  • Gorman, E. (2015): “Getting Ahead in Professional Organizations: Individual Qualities, Socioeconomic Background and Organizational Context.” Journal of Professions and Organization, 2 (2), 122–147.
  • Gorman, E., & Kmec, J. (2009): “Hierarchical rank and women’s organizational mobility: Glass ceilings in corporate law firms.” American Journal of Sociology, 114 (5), 1428–1474.
  • Gustafsson, S., Swart, J., & Kinnie, N. (2018): “‘They are your testimony’: Professionals, clients and the creation of client capture during professional career progression.” Organization Studies, 39 (1), 73–92.
  • Huising, R. (2015): “To hive or to hold? Producing professional authority through scut work.” Administrative Science Quarterly, 60 (2), 263–299.
  • Malhotra, N., Morris, T., & Smets, M. (2010): “New career models in UK professional service firms: From up-or-out to up-and-going-nowhere?” The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 21 (9), 1396–1413.
  • Malhotra, N., Smets, M., & Morris, T. (2016): “Career Pathing and Innovation in Professional Service Firms.” Academy of Management Executives, 30 (4), 369–383.
  • O’Mahoney, J., & Sturdy, A. (2016): “Power and the diffusion of management ideas: The case of McKinsey & Co.” Management Learning, 47 (3), 247–265.
  • Reihlen, M., & Werr, A. (2012): Handbook of Research on Entrepreneurship in Professional Services. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing.
  • Sandefur, R.L. (2015): “Elements of professional expertise: Understanding relational and substantive expertise through lawyers’ impact.” American Sociological Review, 80 (5), 909–933.
  • Wright, A.L., Zammuto, R.F., & Liesch, P.W. (2017): “Maintaining the values of a profession: Institutional work and moral emotions in the emergency department.” Academy of Management Journal, 60 (1), 200–237.
  • Yu, K.H., Kim, S., & Restubog, S. (2015): “Transnational contexts for professional identity development in accounting.” Organization Studies, 36 (11), 1577–1597.
Daniel Muzio is Professor of Management at the University of York Management School, UK. His research focuses on professions, professional services firms and knowledge intensive occupations/organizations. Daniel has published extensively on these topics in leading journals including ‘Journal of Management Studies’, ‘Organization Studies’, ‘Human Relations’, and the ‘British Journal of Sociology’. 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”.
Stefanie Gustafsson is a Lecturer in Organisation Studies at the University of Bath, UK. Her primary research interests are in the dynamics of professional and occupational work, careers and qualitative research methods. Her current research focuses on the work and career experiences of paraprofessionals, particularly paralegals in the UK legal sector, and how these relate to wider changes in the legal profession (funded by the ESRC). She also seeks to widen the methodological repertoire available to researchers of the professions by using visual methods. Stefanie’s work has been published in ‘Organization Studies’. She has also co-authored the fourth edition of “Exploring Strategic Change” (2016), together with Julia Balogun and Veronica Hope Hailey.
Ruthanne Huising is a Professor of Management and Organizations at emlyon business school, France. She is an ethnographer of work and organizations and studies how organizations negotiate external pressures – most often regulatory change – and the implications of these changes for professional control and expertise. Her work has been published in ‘Administrative Science Quarterly’, ‘Organization Science’, and ‘Regulation & Governance’. She is a Senior Editor at ‘Organization Science’.