In a New Light:
Organizational Role Conflicts
In the last chapter, we argued that “The expert” has to be regarded as a social form of interaction, and that “expert” is an attribution to the person who, in this interaction, provides information or explanation, respectively. In short, “expert” exists only in a social context.
In this chapter, we introduce one of the main important social contexts in modern societies: organizations. Organizations set specific constraints on expert services that can result in role conflicts for experts. We present an attributional approach to such role conflicts in experts. In the final part of this chapter, we turn to research in social psychology and see how experts contribute to social validation and the distribution of knowledge.
Organization can take on several forms. It can be a corporation such as a bank or factory, it can be a federal office or an international organization, or it can be an association such as the International Dentists' Federation. Organizations differ from groups in that they—in principle—exist independently of the people who participate. Of course, there would be no International Dentists' Federation without dentists and no factories without workers and managers. Microsoft would probably not be what it is without Bill Gates. However, even Microsoft is not Bill Gates. There are many—we can say nameless—others who work for Microsoft and buy and sell in the