Placement Professionals Between the Ethos of Consulting and Requirements of a Market-Oriented Measurement System

Sunday, 10 July 2016: 09:30
Location: Hörsaal 6A P (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Oral Presentation
Markus GOTTWALD, IAB, Germany
Frank SOWA, Institute for Employment Research (IAB), Nuremberg, Germany
Today, while many countries suffer from financial and economic crisis, Germany once the “sick man of Europe” now seems to be “fit as a fiddle”. It is a widely shared view that Germanys’ economic recovery and crisis-proof has a lot to do with the Hartz reforms initiated in 2003. Therefore Germany is considered a model for the implementation of successful institutional reforms in an “Age of Austerity”. A cornerstone of these reforms was the modernization of the public employment services led by principles of New Public Management. Its core element is a controlling system that measures the job placement officers’ performance by using quantitative targets (budgets, fulfilling plans of measures, job integration etc.). This means that placement professionals are confronted with new tasks and working conditions (e.g. documentation, efficiency orientation). As a consequence, there is an area of conflict along the question of what rates as successful placement process. On the one hand, a professional ethos of consulting can be identified that is related to the ability to respond to biographically needs of job seekers and the way of communication, the quality of job offers and measures, or the reasonable interpretation of demanding and promoting. The recognition and motivation of placement professionals draw from a reflected satisfaction of clients. On the other hand, success is defined by the logic and criteria of the target system. On the basis of ethnographic research, we first elaborate the responsiveness of a highly abstract standardized controlling system to the professionals’ everyday practices by internal differentiation. Second, we show, how the modified controlling system becomes practically translated and applied to the peculiarities of counselling interviews and finally, it will be demonstrated, how the continued development of the controlling system influences and/or even transforms the professionals’ ethos in different ways.