SWG 08: Management, Occupations and Professions in Social Context


, VU University Amsterdam, The Netherlands
, University of York, United Kingdom
, University of Alberta, Canada
, University of Bristol, United Kingdom
, Stockholm School of Economics, Sweden

This SWG will primarily be concerned with exploring interrelated questions about management, occupations and professions such as their power, knowledge, competition, organization and identities. It aims to contribute to our understanding of management not as simply a broad function of control or set of practices, both as both comprising and shaping multiple occupational and professional projects. Moreover, it will help to foster multi-disciplinary debates between scholars from distinct theoretical fields studying occupations, such as accounting, law, human resources, project management, marketing and management consulting. – For further information on management, occupations and professions, please see also your weblog at: https://mopedu.wordpress.com/

Although for a long time and for many, management and managers have been distinguished from specific professions and occupations, any clear separation is less tenable today. Management comprises of various occupational or expert groups including both traditional and 'corporate' professions such as accounting, HR and project management (Muzio et al., 2011).

In addition, management logics, tools and language pervade the practice and organization of occupations. They are enmeshed in the sense that organizations and economic systems need to be understood through the agency of occupational groups who compete for managerial authority and jurisdictional control.

Both the fields of management and professional occupations have a long academic tradition, often running in parallel with organization theory. They also lie at the heart of contemporary social change and of conceptual and policy concerns across the social sciences.

Theoretically, the intersection of these fields relates to one of the foundational, but sometimes forgotten, issues in organization studies, that is the societal

societal consequences of management and organization (Khurana, 2007; Stern & Barley, 1996). However, extant organization and management theory has remained partially distinct from studies of the work of occupations, even those intimately related to management (Beckhy, 2011).

Indeed, the logics of work organizations have often been seen as in competition with those of occupational groups and individuals working in specialized roles (Ackroyd, 2002). Yet, it is hard to understand, say, the governance structures of many organizations without reference to the different individuals and groups who are both conditions and consequences of them (Fligstein, 1990). Various expert occupations are key agents in the changing nature of business organizations, and yet are also subject to managerial discourses and practices themselves.

Thus, management and related occupations are all in flux and interact, typically in organizational contexts, and this has real implications for individuals, institutions and societies. This means that they need to be looked at together, both empirically and in a multi-disciplinary way.


  • Ackroyd, S. (2002): The Organization of Business. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Beckhy, B. (2011): 'Making organizational theory work: Institutions, occupations, and negotiated orders." Organization Science, 22 (5), 1157–1167.
  • Fligstein, N. (1990): The Transformation of Corporate Control. Harvard: Harvard University Press.
  • Khurana, R. (2007): From Higher Aims to Hired Hands: The Social Transformation of American Business Schools and the Unfulfilled Promise of Management as a Profession. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
  • 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.
  • Stern, R., & Barley, S. (1996): "Organizations and social systems: Organization theory's neglected mandate." Administrative Science Quarterly, 41 (1), 146–162.

About the Coordinators

Stefan Heusinkveld (lead coordinator) is an Associate Professor at the VU University Amsterdam, The Netherlands. He has published on topics related to the SWG theme in journals such as Human Relations, Information and Management, Journal of Management Studies, Management Learning, Organization Studies, and Scandinavian Journal of Management. His book on knowledge-based innovation in management consulting was published by Routledge in 2014. Stefan has been actively involved in organizing sub-themes at five EGOS Colloquia and edited a Special Issue in Management Learning.

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”.

Trish Reay is an Associate Professor at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada. She has published on topics related to healthcare managers and professionals in journals, such as the Academy of Management Journal, Journal of Management Studies, Organization Studies, and Health Care Management Review. She has recently completed her term as Chair of the Health Care Management division at the Academy of Management. She co-edited a special issue on public management in the British Journal of Management. She is a senior editor at Organization Studies and serves on the editorial boards of the Academy of Management Journal, Organization Science, Academy of Management Discoveries, Journal of Professions and Organization, and Health Services Management Research.

Andrew Sturdy is a Professor of Organisational Behaviour at the University of Bristol, UK. His research relates directly to the proposed SWG theme and he has published widely in this field. He is on the editorial board of numerous journals, including Journal of Management Studies and Organization and Organization Studies. He has co-edited a number of journal special issues (including Human Relations, 2008; Management Learning, 2011, 2007; Organization, 2003; Scandinavian Journal of Management, 2009) and three books. He is associate editor of the Journal of Management Inquiry.

Andreas Werr is Professor of Organisation Studies at the Stockholm School of Economics, Sweden, and the Head of its Center for HRM and Knowledge Work. His research interests include questions regarding the use and work of management consultants as well as the nature and development of management knowledge. He serves on the editorial board of the Scandinavian Journal of Management and Organization Studies. His research has been published in journals such as Organization Studies, R&D Management, and the Sloan Management Review. He has co-edited special issues in Management Learning'(2011) and the Scandinavian Journal of Management (2009) and edited three books.