Unmasking Identities in a Professional Service Firm
Abstract: Purpose We aim to investigate how professionals make sense of the culture in the context of PSFs and how they engage in organizational and professional identification. Methodology The researchers look into the sensemaking processes professionals attach to organizational culture from a symbolic interactionism tradition, while from a critical perspective challenging the mainstream assumptions about culture and identity by recognizing the influence of power and control in organizational contexts. We performed 12 interviews with professionals in a characteristic PSF, participated in an observation event and analyzed internal documents. Findings Our findings propose that professional identity has a strong influence in the context of PSFs, to the extent that we argue culture is a by-product of the profession. Thus, professionals claim identification with the organization, however it is salient they more strongly identify with the profession. This is further supported by the fact that that when certain culture elements do not fit the profession, PSFs fail to deliver on those values. Contributions The thesis contributes to the theory of professional service firm management. From this qualitative study, we suggest that when professional identity is so heavily embedded in the organizational culture, this may lead to a deceitful practice of increasing professionals’ organizational identification.
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