Panel 2: Public professionals and their (new) connections

Professional controls, administrative leadership & networks

Chaired by: dr. Karin Geuijen (UU), prof. dr. Mirko Noordegraaf (UU), prof. dr. Bram Steijn (EUR) & dr. Lars Tummers (EUR),, &

Public organizations – varying from policy organizations and executive agencies to health care, welfare and schools – face pressures to (re)professionalize work and service delivery in order to improve the impact of their work. Roles and competencies of work floor professionals are redesigned, experts enter into new relations with political superiors and stakeholders, managers and managing professionals try to develop ‘professional’ managerial profiles. Professionals work together in various ways which is stimulated by innovative approaches such as healthcare pathways, networks and chains (‘ketens’). Professionals face increasing performance and quality controls.

Although some of these trends are clear, together they create a bewildering array of changes. These do not only generate practical challenges, they also create theoretical puzzles, relating to professional dynamics inside and between public organizations and links between professional, organizational, network and political logics. In order to understand these developments, the panel focuses on three themes, which both capture the traditional debates (especially theme 1), but also reconfigure and broaden the debate of professionals in new interesting directions (especially theme 1 & 2).

Theme 1: Professionals and controls: Burdens or tools?

In which way do professionals handle organizational, financial and professional controls, such as increased performance management, quality controls imposed by governments or professional associations, as well as changing professional controls imposed by associations and informal public controls imposed by the media. When are controls seen as burdens for professionals, and when are they embraced? What are the effects of for instance performance management tools on professionals? What are the effects of deprofessionalization of professionals? For instance, what are the effects when citizens are given more autonomy and the role of professionals is diminished, for instance because of austerity measures? What are the positive and negative side-effects of such shifts in responsibility?

Theme 2: Professionals and administrative leadership.

How can professionals best be managed? What is the relationship between professionals and leadership? In which way can professionals manage tensions between entrepreneurialism and political sensitivity in administrative organizations? How can leaders deal with professionals in bureaucratic organizations?

Theme 3: Professionals and/in networks.

Professionals face complex problems which they need to deal with in cooperation with colleagues within as well as outside of their organization. Cooperative professional relationships will be characterized by different professional norms, information positions and power inequalities (think of the power disbalance between nurses and physicians). Professionals have to find ways to cope with this. In which way are professionals able to become boundary spanners between organizations in order to implement innovations and improve (social) impact?

This NIG panel track welcomes papers that discuss the above themes on public professionals (controls, leadership and networks). We do not only focus on traditional professionals (such as physicians, judges or scientists), but also welcome papers about ‘semi’, ‘proto’ or ‘quasi’ professionals (such as public managers, welfare workers, social workers, nurses and teachers). We welcome papers that come from different disciplines, including both empirical and theoretical contributions. This NIG panel track will be used to further develop a joint research program on the topic of professionals in public domains, including international publication opportunities, such as special issues in international journals and edited volumes.


Abstracts can be sent to David Schelfhout ( ), before June 21, 2013.