Open Source Professionalism: Changing Forms of Professional Expertise

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 8:54 AM
Room: 414
Oral Presentation
Karin GEUIJEN , School of Governance, University of Utrecht, Utrecht, Netherlands
Mirko NOORDEGRAAF , Utrecht University, Netherlands
Public professionals often complain about their lack of autonomy and the pressures put on their work by 'outsiders', such as managers, politicians, inspectorates, clients and the press. They experience red tape, bureaucratic burdens and accountability pressures that curtail them and their service provision. But when professionals are set free and when bureaucratic and managerial standards are eliminated, public professionals might become insecure.

In this paper we show that the problem public professionals face is not standards per se but inappropriate standards - standards that are not meaningful for doing their job, and not legitimate.

We argue that public professionals might take the lead in developing appropriate standards. These can no longer be based on professionals' expert knowledge, including 'evidence based' standards, technical guidelines or strict protocols classical professionals used to develop. Times are changing; the problems professionals are confronted with have become more volatile, uncertain, messy and ambiguous. It seems less possible to handle these problems in a technical manner; problems call for more adaptive approaches. Professionals' expertise as such is no longer sufficient; it needs to be complemented by other types of knowledge from so-called relevant outsiders, i.e. stakeholders.

Public professionals might tap into several sources of stakeholder knowledge, scientific as well as experiental, and deliberatively create effective and legitimate professional action. We label this 'open source professionalism'. In this way, public professionals open up their professionalism; with stakeholders (networks) they co-produce meaningful and legitimate standards that help them to deliver valuable and valued public services.