As occupations become increasingly employed by large organizations, understanding the role of their occupational ideologies especially their antecedents and their consequences becomes critical to managing them and their work. Occupational ideology refers to ideas occupational members maintain about the nature of work and their identities as occupational practitioners. The ideology I examine is this dissertation is professionalism. Professionalism emphasizes the use of expert knowledge, norms of equality, work autonomy, and self-regulation. In contrast to the literature on occupations that construes professionalism to be shared among members of the same occupation, I argue and show using a longitudinal dataset that members of the same occupation maintain heterogeneous degrees of professionalism which are rooted in their organizational context and specifically in the nature of their work. I propose three central antecedents of professionalism that are characteristic of occupational work namely, task uncertainty, task interdependence, and communication frequency. The results support the predictions that task interdependence and communication frequency increase occupational members' sense of professionalism.
Next, I argue and show partial support for the consequences of professionalism on organizational and occupational commitment. While previous work has shown that occupational members can commit to multiple targets and that their commitment to their organization and occupation are positively correlated especially in more "professionally" consistent organizational contexts, I argue and show that although an organization's professionalism has a positive and significant effect on members' commitment to the organization and occupation, a more nuanced account is also required. Specifically, I argue and show partial support for an interactionist account which suggests that occupational members' commitment to the organization and occupation is a function of the similarity between their own sense of professionalism and their organization's professionalism. The results suggest that occupational members that perceive their organization to be upholding their professionalism will be committed to the organization and less committed to the occupation revealing a substitution in identification undocumented in prior work.
Finally, the dissertation provides a comparative account of the inter-occupational differences in occupational members' ideologies and their organizational and occupational commitment which sheds light on the occupational subcultures that develop in contemporary organizations.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. May 2012. Major: Bussiness Administration. Advisor: Andrew H. Van de Ven. 1 computer file (PDF); viii, 77 pages, appendices 1-2.
Bechara, John P..
Antecedents and consequences of occupational ideologies: a comparison of multiple occupational groups..
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