Rescuing Business: The Making of Corporate Bankruptcy Law in England and the United States

By Bruce G. Carruthers; Terence C. Halliday | Go to book overview

9
Jurisdictional Conflicts in the Market

Major legal reforms, we have argued, significantly disturbed the division of professional labor. Reformist hopes to save companies and reorganize vulnerable firms required reliable and trustworthy experts, whose reputation and skills would encourage managers and creditors to try rehabilitation before giving up hope of corporate revival (Chapter 7). On both sides of the Atlantic, bankruptcy professionals experienced a meteoric rise in their professional identity, their market position, and the rewards accompanying both. This chapter appraises the role of the bankruptcy reforms in professional upward mobility by focusing on two broad questions.

First, what does it take to reconstitute a professional jurisdiction? What mechanisms are available to change the organization of professional services? Many of the most far-reaching reforms of corporate reorganization presuppose competent professionals who command the respect and trust of clients, and other interested parties. How can a professional jurisdiction be thoroughly renovated, therefore, in order for it to function effectively in the reallocation of major property rights? What are the means for stimulating the supply of expert labor in an area of great macro-economic significance?

Second, who crafts the division of labor? Aspirant professions? Reforming governments? State officials? How, then, can we account for the complex interplay between state activism and professional collective action?

Both questions converge on the theory of professionalization. These case studies provide unusual instances in which to observe rapid professional change. And both compel reappraisal of current understandings of professionalization.


ENGLAND: THE ADVENT OF A POLYMORPHOUS PROFESSION

The 1986 English Insolvency Act provides an unexpected moment in which to explicate theories of professionalization. In this case, the reconstruction of market institutions demonstrates how closely professions can be implicated in state purpose. Mrs Thatcher's Government viewed professionalization not simply as a convenient way to regulate a

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