Professions and professional service firms in a global context: reframing narratives
It is often argued that the superior cognitive powers of homo sapiens enabled them to overcome the limitations of the Neanderthals through better abilities to make tools and diversify their agricultural processes. As a result, they had better nutrition and were stronger and so dominated others. Yuval Harari (2015) in his magisterial history, Sapiens, argues another case which is to do with humans’ abilities to communicate and learn from such communication, or more simply the ability to gossip. It might sound trite, but from one’s communicative abilities come myths, stories and fictions. And it is this which makes professions so successful – their capacity to create myths and legends to ensure their place within society (Boje 2008; Czarniawska 2004). All that has changed today is there is now intense competition among creators and interpreters of myths. The narratives told are often contradictory, even among professionals who ought to agree. Knowledge and expertise – often ignored in the studies of professions – are crucial to understanding the situation of professions and professionalisation today, which is more precarious now than before. This shift in the precariousness of professions might be put down to the following: The democratisation of knowledge through such intermediaries as the internet. Increasing difficulty of distinguishing between scientific and non-scientific knowledge. The loss of self-regulation of professions, including loss of trust within and between professionals and clients. The increased role of external regulation and audit, which are part of governmentality. The growing role of states intervening in delivery and training of professional services and professions. The move towards bureaucratic organisations as the mode of professional delivery with a consequent adoption of new audit methods such as New Public Management. Increasing permeability of professional boundaries – who controls whom? 27The rise of marketisation and financialisation of professions. Professionals’ loss of autonomy and subsequent ‘gain’ in discretion. The disruptive (rather than sustaining) power of technology to hollow out professional skill sets. Better understanding of how the mind works, via cognitive science, especially in relation to hive minds versus individual limitations.
Professions and Professional Service Firms: Private and Public Sector Enterprises in the Global Economy
Sociology not elsewhere classified
Legal Practice, Lawyering and the Legal Profession