Old Managerialism and New Professionalism? Social Professions Vs. Healthcare Professions

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 3:42 PM
Room: 414
Oral Presentation
Willem TOUSIJN , University of Turin (Italy), Torino, Italy
Laura CATALDI , University of Turin (Italy), Torino, Italy

The aim of the paper is to discuss the tensions between the managerial and the professional logics, both at the theoretical and the empirical level. Original evidence comes from two qualitative studies (interviews) carried out in the Turin area: one on different occupations engaged in social work, and the other one on professionals engaged in healthcare-social team work. We move from a discussion of the nature of the managerial logic, seen as a complex puzzle stemming both from classical organizational theory (Scientific Management) and from the new institutional economics (Public Choice). Our findings suggest that in social work an “old” version of managerialism has been implemented, in which the managerial logic is reduced to hierarchical control. We then analyze professionals’ strategies adopted to cope with managerialism, as they result from ours and other studies on social workers and healthcare professionals. One strategy (cooptation) stands as a non-zero sum game in which professionals act proactively to include managerial tasks within their activities and shows that the managerial and the professional logics can be reconciled, though social workers seem to be less eager and/or less capable to adopt it than healthcare professionals. The significance of this for a new concept of professionalism is finally discussed.