Consulenti di Management. Il professionalismo organizzativo nel lavoro di conoscenza. Edited by Lara Maestripieri, Torino: L’Harmattan Italia, 2013. Book in Italian.
In the recent years, there has been a transformation in the way the knowledge work is considered, above all when we focus our attention on the boundaries between the profession inside the organizations (i.e. management) and what is outside (i.e. freelance professionals). Usually considered irreconcilable (Freidson, 2001) (1), organizations and professionalism have started to built new forms, new strategies and new cultures in order to communicate with each other. Such progressive hybridization (Noordegraaf, 2011) (2) put in question the traditional assumption by which intellectual work within organisations is proletarized or deprofessionalized, but on the contrary it favours the construction of a professional and organisational culture at the same time, which uses the organisation as a new space of dialogue (Evetts, 2010) (3). Professionalism is not anymore an alternative form of integration into the labour market, but it must be considered as a plural mechanism: performed within the organisations, the organized professionalism claims at the same time the need for autonomy in its own job, it promotes entrepreneurship, it requires managerial and commercial skills (Faulconbridge, Muzio, 2008) (4).
The management consultancy is a privileged field in which observe such tendencies. Even if it is a job that started consolidated in the industrial society, in the last three decades it benefited from a robust growth due to the increasing demands of advanced business services. The consulting services offered by management consultants are paradigmatic forms of the contemporary model of work organising, as long as they are based on projectification, on immateriality, on the globalisation of the biggest corporation of the sector, and on the strategic use of knowledge.
Starting from a critic of the traditional approach to professions, in this book Lara Maestripieri propose an analysis based on management consultancy as professional. In fact, this approach can offer the possibility to investigate the professional identities of management consultants, problematizing the issues of boundaries within and outside organisations. At the same time, because of the privileged relationships that they have with managers and other relevant cadres in the organisation, management consultancy can help scholars in highlighting the strategic use of management principle in professional activities, thus stressing the role of organisational professionalism (Kipping, 2011) (5).
On the theoretical side, these facts have raised the need for a new understanding of the different shapes that the relationship between organisation and professionalism can take in specific working contexts. This book contributes to fulfil these empirical and theoretical gaps by proposing an analysis based on 55 in-depth interviews with management consultants in Italy, analized with the methodology of biographical trajectories and of positioning. Stemming from individual and institutional factors, Lara Maestripieri proposes an investigation of how workers experience being a management consultant and the results will show how management consultants define themselves as workers in constant reference to managers and professionals simultaneously. Different biographical trajectories, however, underline different weight of those references in defining the professional projects of consultants.
This book is the result of a PhD project about Management Consultant in Italy, conducted by Lara Maestripieri. The book is promoted by L’Harmattan Italia and the publication is in Italian.
(1) Freidson E (2001) Professionalism. The third logic. Polity Press & Blackwell Publishers.
(2) Noordegraaf M (2011) “Risky Business: How Professionals and Professional Fields (Must) Deal with Organizational Issues,” Organization Studies 32(10): 1349-1371.
(3) Evetts J (2010) ’Reconnecting professional occupations with professional organizations: risks and opportunities’, in Evetts J & Svensson L (eds) Sociology of professions. Continental and Algo-SaxonTraditions. Göteborg: Daidalos.
(4) Faulconbridge J & Muzio D (2008) ‘Organizational professionalism in globalising law firms’, Work, Employment and Society, 22(1): 7-25.
(5) Kipping M (2011) “Hollow from the start? Image professionalism in management consulting,” Current Sociology 59(4): 530–550.