Professionalism As Cooperative Competence

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 11:00
Location: Hörsaal 17 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Ines LANGEMEYER, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Germany
Discussions on "relational expertise" (Anne Edwards) or "transformative agency" (Yrjö Engeström) currently point to a new development of professionalism. This professionalism is especially required in high reliability organisations and high performance workplaces. Main features are (1) the capacity to change and develop work activities self-dependently with regard to complex tasks, (2) the competence to act flexible with respect to quality and safety requirements, (3) the non-heroic commitment to connect one's own expertise to the expertise of others while solving problems. This new professionalism thus takes into account that complexity cannot be mastered by one person, or by meticulous planning and prescribing routines only. This paper elaborates against this background the concept of 'mindful cooperative competence' (Langemeyer 2015). 'Mindfulness' is according to Karls Weick, Kathleen Sutcliffe and others a certain ethos enacted and cultivated in several professional activities in high-reliability organisations to ensure that teams can undertake the right steps in critical situations. It describes how teams can foster their intuition for critical incidents and methods that help preventing disasters. Being mindful is therefore not only a matter of individual awareness, keenness and flexibility but also an outcome of professional cooperation. To create a 'cognitive infrastructure' (Weick) has became a tactic of professionals to ensure that their agency is resilient in face of unexpected problems. On the basis of two research projects conducted in the fields of heart surgery (more precisely re. the profession of perfusionists) and IT-work, the development of 'cooperative competence' is scrutinized. The conducive as well as the inhibiting aspects of work practices and of the behaviour of teams are explained by means of a new model of professional cooperation. This model is also used to compare professionalism in different forms of cooperation.  

Langemeyer, Ines (2015). Das Wissen der Achtsamkeit. Kooperative Kompetenz in komplexen Arbeitsprozessen. Münster: Waxmann