Social & Education Policy

The Changing Organizational Context of Professional Work

Leicht, K.T.; Fennell, M.L.


Our paper represents an attempt to stimulate continued sociological interest in professional work. Our review suggests that understanding professional work is central to understanding larger workplace changes in the late twentieth century. Some researchers have documented the increasingly diverse arrangements for the delivery of professional services, even as others point to a convergence of professional control around accountability and cost containment issues. Claims of diverging interests across work settings are often confounded by greater racial, gender, and ethnic diversity among professionals. We suggest that the study of professional careers provides an avenue for studying the diversification of professionals and work settings. Future research should also follow changes in the prestige rankings of different organizational arrangements from the viewpoint of professionals, professional associations, and clients. Finally we warn researchers that managerial groups seeking control of professional work have professional agendas of their own which constrain the possibilities for sweeping change.


Leicht KT, Fennell ML. The Changing Organizational Context of Professional Work. 1997;23(1):215-231. doi:10.1146/annurev.soc.23.1.215.