Professionalization through symbolic and social capital: Evidence from the careers of elite consultants

Details

Serval ID
serval:BIB_6AB395C86423
Type
Article: article from journal or magazin.
Collection
Publications
Institution
Title
Professionalization through symbolic and social capital: Evidence from the careers of elite consultants
Journal
Journal of Professions and Organization
Author(s)
Kipping Matthias, Bühlmann Felix, David Thomas
ISSN
2051-8811
Publication state
Published
Issued date
24/10/2019
Language
english
Abstract
This article contributes to the debate about how more recent professions, especially those related to management, might achieve a semblance of ‘professionalism’ in the absence of the conditions that facilitated the creation of the traditional professions such as medicine, law or accounting in the 19th century. Much of the recent literature has either argued that these professions had to rely on some form of ‘image professionalism’ or that the professionalization process was ‘captured’ by the dominant firms within the professional field, with the aim of creating corporate, firm-internal rather than open labor markets for these professionals. Building on Bourdieu’s notions of symbolic and social capital, we suggest an alternative pathway to professionalization in stratified professional fields. We namely argue that a career at one of the ‘elite’ professional service firms (PSFs) can provide privileged access to positions at other firms within the same field. Hence, such a career constitutes a form of closure regime and allows, at least to some degree, the external labor mobility so typical of traditional professions. We explore this alternative pathway to professionalization by analyzing a novel and unique historical data set of former McKinsey consultants, identifying a number of boundary conditions that seem to facilitate such intraprofessional careers and others, which, over time, might weaken it. We conclude by pointing to a number of broader contributions from our research.
Open Access
Yes
Create date
04/01/2020 15:58
Last modification date
05/01/2020 6:18
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