Collegiality as Political work: Professions in today’s world of organizations

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Collegiality is frequently portrayed as an inherent characteristic of professions, associated with normative expectations autonomously determined and regulated among peers. However, in advanced modernity other modes of governance responding to societal expectations and increasing state reliance on professional expertise often appear in tension with conditions of collegiality. This article argues that collegiality is not an immutable and inherent characteristic of the governance of professional work and organizations; rather, it is the result of the ability of a profession to operationalize the normative, relational, and structural requirements of collegiality at work. This article builds on different streams of scholarship to present a dynamic approach to collegiality based on political work by professionals to protect, maintain, and reformulate collegiality as a core set of principles governing work. Productive resistance and co-production are explored for their contribution to collegiality in this context, enabling accommodation between professions and organizations to achieve collective objectives and serving as a vector of change and adaptation of professional work in contemporary organizations. Engagement in co-production influences the ability to materialize collegiality at work, just as the maintenance and transformation of collegiality will operate in a context where professions participate and negotiate compromises with others legitimate modes of governance. Our arguments build on recent studies and hypotheses concerning the interface of professions and organizations to reveal the political work that underlies the affirmation and re-affirmation of collegiality as a mode of governance of work based on resistance and co-production.

This content has been updated on 10 June 2020 at 15 h 31 min.