Managing Professional Identities: Knowledge, Performativity and the "New" Professional

By Mike Dent; Stephen Whitehead | Go to book overview

12

Writing professionalidentities

(In)between structure and agency

Damian O’Doherty

Paradoxes abound in the study of professional labour and management. As the numbers of employees with management responsibilities increase, we are, according to Grey (1999), ‘all managers now’. In its media and dispersal this growth extends the domination of a narrow technical and instrumental rationality that, given its very ubiquity, undermines any pretentious claims for status and exclusivity. Management today is found (always partially) in the high-street bookstores and the airports, the newspapers and internet, conferences, workshops, and ‘virtual’ seminars. The exercise of management and talk about this exercise is becoming confused and the idea of its practice as a substantive presence de-railed by the infinite regress of media that deconstructs the temporal and spatial separation of presentation and re-presentation. Research remains part of this media. It could be argued that management is being made a textual obsession and a virus that morphs and mutates, seeping and spreading its way into every nook and cranny, inventing new ‘windows of opportunity’ at times when organizational space threatens to become over-saturated. However, if it is everywhere, it also has to be nowhere. It can be neither here nor there, if it is everywhere. Perhaps, as Lennie (1999) has suggested, we are therefore reaching the stage of something ‘beyond management’. Given this, it might strike some as a little odd that we are simultaneously confronted with a lot of cacophonous talk and a lot of accumulating paper, a tumescence that the shelves of the libraries swell to accommodate. This chapter seeks to add a little weight to the burden of this collective depository by opening up the space where we can consider the why of writing professional labour and management; and in so doing, exposing that place between individuals, between structure and agency, where the ontologies of professional managers slip and slide.


Abysmal questions and Y-writing

Scholarship in critical management studies is often justified on the basis that writing contributes theoretical and research ‘findings’ in order to provide for the advancement of knowledge and the improvement of understanding and practice. Equally, a professional service is one that is traditionally measured in terms of its exactitude and rigour where one expects the application of rules and

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