Conflicting Rationales in Public Organizations: The Role of Bureaucratic Principles, Market Values, and Norms from Psychology

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Everyday life in public organizations is influenced by conflicting rationales that do not always fit with the norms and ethics of the professions working in these organizations. Scholars use concepts such as ‘organizational professionalism’, ‘hybrid professionalism’, ‘situated professionalism’ etc. to emphasize the effects of outside factors on professional work. This current paper contributes to this discussion by focusing on three sets of factors of particular importance in welfare work and which originate from the bureaucracy, the market and psychology. Thus, bureaucratic principles and discretion exist side by side with performance measurement targets of New Public Management, other market values such as free choice and individual responsibility of the citizens as well as goals of co-production, personalisation and other empowerment techniques. The paper highlights how these multiple factors often pull in different directions resulting in ambiguous and conflictual conditions for the way professions can conduct their work today. However, and of equal importance, these multiple factors also produce common work conditions for very different professions working in public organizations as they regulate all kind of professional work in public organizations. Consequently, an important discussion of the paper is whether the past disputes over disciplinary boundaries of professions (as found in much literature on professions) are replaced by a joint critique of professions and the way external factors restrict professional work today.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2016
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Event9th Interim Meeting ESA RN19 Sociology of Professions - University of Aveiro , Aveiro , Portugal
Duration: 8 Sept 201610 Sept 2016
Conference number: 9


Conference9th Interim Meeting ESA RN19 Sociology of Professions
LocationUniversity of Aveiro

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