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2013/2014  KAN-CM_B147  Managing and Organizing Professional Work: Institutions, Identity, and Work

English Title
Managing and Organizing Professional Work: Institutions, Identity, and Work

Course information

Language English
Exam ECTS 7.5 ECTS
Type Elective
Level Full Degree Master
Duration One Semester
Course period Autumn, Spring
Changes in course schedule may occur
Friday 08.00-10.35, week 6-15, 17
Time Table Please see course schedule at e-Campus
Max. participants 50
Study board
Study Board for MSc in Economics and Business Administration
Course coordinator
  • Frans Bevort - Department of Organization (IOA)
Course faculty:
Elena Rviola, PhD, Assistant Professor, IOA
Frans Bévort, PhD, Assistant Professor, IOA
Marianne Stang Våland, PhD, Assistant Professor, IOA

Course responsible: Frans Bevort - fb.ioa@cbs.dk
Course responsible department manager: Peter Kjær - pkj.ioa@cbs.dk
Administration: Mette Busk Ellekrog- mbe.ioa@cbs.dk
Main academic disciplines
  • Management
  • Organization
  • Economic and organizational sociology
Last updated on 25-10-2013
Learning objectives
This course prepares you with analytical frameworks necessary for understanding professional work and its management, organization and identity challenges. The course focuses on professions as organized groups of workers, with a common knowledge base, an expert identity, and a more or less formal self-regulating body: Doctors, lawyers, accountants, architects, nurses, engineers, journalists are few examples of professions.

After the course the students should be able to:
  • account for the central characteristics of professional work according to classic sociological theoretical definitions of professions;
  • identify and discuss specific challenges for managing and organizing professional work, in comparison to e.g. traditional bureaucratic organizations, based on current societal developments;
  • apply recent developments within management studies to the analysis of management of professional work, in relation to work practices, identities, and institutions;
  • reflect upon and discuss contemporary and future developments for managing professional work;
  • explore and analyse concrete cases of managing professional work, based on the theories and debates applied in the points above.
Course prerequisites
The course will presuppose knowledge of organization theory and behavioral sciences at a level equivalent to bachelor of administration.
Oral exam based on a miniproject:
Examination form Oral exam based on written product

In order to participate in the oral exam, the written product must be handed in before the oral exam; by the set deadline. The grade is based on an overall assessment of the written product and the individual oral performance.
Individual or group exam Group exam, max. 4 students in the group
Exam will be with the participation of the projectauthor(-s) (be it individuals or groups in the specific case)
Size of written product Max. 15 pages
10 pages for single students
Assignment type Project
Written product to be submitted on specified date and time.
20 min. per student, including examiners' discussion of grade, and informing plus explaining the grade
Grading scale 7-step scale
Examiner(s) Internal examiner and second internal examiner
Exam period December/January
Make-up exam/re-exam
Same examination form as the ordinary exam
Course content and structure

Professional work is undergoing significant changes, due to a number of reasons. The globalized economy, the emergence and spread of new digital and network technologies, the recession of the welfare state have important consequences for professional workers in terms of work practices, identity, and institutional arrangements. The traditional definition of professions, building on an exclusive bulk of knowledge, autonomy of work, and public service mission, is under challenge. While a lot of professions used to operate within well-defined boundaries and their professional practices were identified and recognized by peers with the same educational training, the exclusiveness of such professional expertise is now being questioned. As new areas of expertise emerge, and new roles for clients are being shaped, the very definition of existing professions changes, their boundaries are blurring, and new identities and institutional arrangements are forming. Questioned by digital technology, the distinction between experts, who used to be the professionals, and non-experts, who used to be their clients, is no longer trivial.  
These changes imply a number of management challenges. The professional autonomy might conflict with the need of management control. The source of power might be contested between professional legitimacy and management achievements. Leadership, thus, becomes a complex issue, as it is often shared between the professionals themselves and executive managers.
Building on the teachers’ expertise, the course will particularly focus of the work and management of three traditional professions: accountants, architects, and journalists. The course invites students in open discussions around changes in professional work and unfolding management challenges.
As an integrated part of the course examination, the students will conduct a mini-project, in which they investigate a specific profession and its challenges in terms of management, organization and identity issues. 

Teaching methods
The course combines both theoretical and applied materials. Emphasis is placed upon case discussion. Visiting speakers will supplement the materials.
Expected literature

Abbott, A.D. (1988) The System of Professions: An Essay on the Division of Expert Labor. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
Alvesson, M. (2003) Knowledge Work: Ambiguity, Image and Identity. Human Relations, 54: 863-886.
Barley, S.R. (1986) Technicians in the Workplace: Ethnographic Evidence for Bringing Work into Organizational Studies.  Administrative Science Quarterly, 41(3): 404-441.
Barley, S.R. and Kunda, G. (2004) Gurus, Hired Guns, and Warm Bodies: Itinerant experts in a knowledge economy. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Cooper, D. J., Hinings, B., Greenwood, R., & Brown, J. L. (1996). Sedimentation and transformation organizational change: The case of Canadian law firms.Organization Studies, (17/4), 623-647.
Doolin, B. (2002) Enterprise discourse, professional identity, and the organizational control of hospital clinicians. Organization studies, 23(3): 369-390.
Freidson, E. (1973) The Professions and Their Prospects. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.
Gardner, H., Csikszentmihalvi, M., & Damon, W. (2001) Good work: When excellence and ethics meet. New York: Basic Books
Greenwood, R., & Hinings, C.R. and Brown, J. (1990). The P2-form, strategic management: Corporate practices in professional partnerships.Academy of Management Journal, 33(4), 725–755,
Maister, D. H. (2003). Managing the professional service firm Simon & Schuster, UK, Ltd.
Sarfatti Larsson, M. (1977) The rise of professionalism. Berkley, CA: University of California Press.
Evett, J. (2003) The Sociological Analysis of Professionalism: Occupational Change in the Modern World International Sociology, 18: 395-415.
Further reading:
Bévort, F. (2012), Making sense of management with logics. An ethnograghical study of accountants who become managers, CBS PhD-series 17.
Raviola, E. (2010) Paper Meets Web. How the Institution of News Production Works on Paper and Online. Jönköping: JIBS Dissertation Series n. 65.

Last updated on 25-10-2013