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Struggling to challenge an informal field order: Professional associations as standard-setters
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Stockholm Centre for Organizational Research (SCORE).
Handelshögskolan i Stockholm/SSE. (DMO)
2011 (English)Conference paper (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

In the last decades, the consulting industry has undergone major changes. The industry has grown rapidly, attracted many new players and the content of the service has expanded to include different types of services. In this changing field, actors such as professional associations, consultants and clients have sought to find ways of defining the boundaries and professional identities of consultants. In this paper, we explore the strategies used by professional associations to balance the demands of professionalization with the informal and elusive characteristics of the consulting field. Drawing on an extensive longitudinal field-study of seven self professional associations we describe and analyze obstacles faced and strategies applied when attempting to challenge this informal field order by way of standardization. The results indicate that the informal field order in the consulting industry is so strong that attempts of introducing more formal orders such as standards become a high-risk project for the professional associations, as it may cause them to lose legitimacy and members. As a consequence, the attempts of professionalization are adjusted to fit the norms in the informal field order rather than the other way around.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
consultants, professional associations, professionalization, standards
National Category
Social Sciences
Research subject
Business Administration
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-62684OAI: diva2:443972
Available from: 2011-09-27 Created: 2011-09-27 Last updated: 2011-09-27Bibliographically approved

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Alexius, Susanna
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Stockholm Centre for Organizational Research (SCORE)
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ReferencesLink to record
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