Professional Autonomy or Organizational Control in Collaboration Management

Monday, 16 July 2018: 15:45
Oral Presentation
John BRAUER, Örebro University, Sweden
A massive trend in public administration latter years is inter-organizational collaboration – but how does it affect professional groups? A solution suggested to solve the complexity in welfare states is collaboration between professionals in different organizations. This challenge the ideal type of welfare-state professionals, assumed to possess substantial power over clients. Having to collaborate with other organizations demands negotiation and compromises between professionals. Hence, it alters the professional-client-dyad in the sense that several professionals become included. Furthermore, differences in professional and organizational cultures as well as praxis create barriers. Collaboration also challenges organizations, often with the response of increased managerial practices. Professional autonomy changes into standardized services to avoid conflict concerning responsibilities between collaboration partners.

The paper inquires the ties between organisation and profession in relation to collaboration management. It includes analysis from an ongoing research project concerning inter-organizational collaboration between municipal and national-governed authorities in Sweden. It is a comparative case study brought out in three municipalities, including the perspective of professionals and managers as well as clients. A central question is how these changes in public management affect professionals in their daily work. What happens when they, on top of having to take managers and clients into account, have to work together with professionals in other organizations? And what are the long-term consequences, will we see a new form of professionalism based on the skill to negotiate between the mentioned actors? The papers also set focus on asymmetry of power between organizations as well as professionals. What are the possibilities to collaborate with stakeholders, be it organization or profession, who lacks interest or incentive to find reasonable solutions to the challenges facing the modern welfare state?