Fragmented fields: Professionalisms and work settings in Italian management consultancy

Lara Maestripieri*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Management consultancy has long been a contested terrain in the sociology of the professions. Although the professionalism of management consultants has always been emphasized by practitioners themselves, the lack of a strong community of peers has been an impediment to their professionalization. In this article, I argue that professionalism is not the outcome of a process of regulation and institutionalization but that it has to be conceived a discourse comprising norms, worldviews, and values that define what is appropriate for an individual to be considered a competent and recognized member of this community. Given the diversity characterizing the field, there are multiple discourses surrounding professionalism of management consultants, and these discourses are shaped by work settings. Work settings are a combination of the type of organization professional partnership or professional service firm and the employment status (employee or self-employed). Drawing on the empirical evidence from various work settings (professional service firms, professional partnership, and self-employment), I investigate four clusters of practitioners identified in 55 biographical and semi-structured interviews conducted with management consultants in Italy. Four types of professionalism emerge from the clusters. Organizing professionalism is the sole professionalism that appears in all work settings. Other discourses (corporate, commercialized, and hybrid professionalism) are context-dependent and more likely to be found in specific work settings.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)357-376
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Professions and Organization
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 7 Sep 2019


  • commercialized professionalism
  • corporate professio
  • hybr
  • id professionalism
  • management consultancy
  • nalism
  • organization
  • organizing professionalism


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