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Beyond a common title - The development of a professional identity among energy advisor
Linköping University, Department of Management and Engineering, VITS - Development of Informations Systems and Work Context. Linköping University, The Institute of Technology.
Linköping University, Department of Management and Engineering. Linköping University, The Institute of Technology.
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to explore if and how a professional identity can be formed in the wake of the foundation of a new public service. In the article we focus on how different forces, regulative and emergent, interact and contribute to a development of a coherent understanding of a professional identity in a decentralized service. The case of local authority energy and climate consultancy is an illustrative example of a nascent service occupation in Sweden where the individuals holding the job title are geographically dispersed.

Design/methodology/approach: This paper has a qualitative approach and relies on three different data sources: participatory observations, written documents, and in-depth interviews with energy and climate advisers working in a particular region in Sweden. The study covers the years 2005 to 2010.

Findings: Our findings suggest that identity formation among geographically dispersed individuals in a nascent service occupation is possible. The development of collective understanding of the professional identity is influenced both by regulative and emergent forces, where regulative and autonomous forces seem to concur.

Research limitations/implications: This paper is limited to one particular service occupation in Sweden from which generalizations are limited.

Practical implications: The findings may serve as useful input for management in order to understand facilitation of identity building among professionals in decentralized functions.

Originality/value: The value of this study lies in the comprehensive approach of how different pertinent forces interact with each other in order for a cohesive understanding of a work-related identity to develop in newly established service occupations.

National Category
Engineering and Technology
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-74749OAI: diva2:491812
Available from: 2012-02-07 Created: 2012-02-07 Last updated: 2012-02-07Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Kan professioner organiseras fram?: En fallstudie av den kommunala energi- och klimatrådgivningen
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Kan professioner organiseras fram?: En fallstudie av den kommunala energi- och klimatrådgivningen
2012 (Swedish)Licentiate thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [sv]

Att nya samhällsfunktioner och professioner växer fram som svar på behov i samhället är inte något nytt fenomen i sig, men vad är det som händer när en ny decentraliserad funktion skapas utifrån ett statligt behov? Hur organiseras och samordnas den? Och leder den nya samhällsfunktionen även till att en ny profession växer fram? I professionslitteraturen lyfts olika förklaringsmodeller till professioner ochprofessionalisering fram, allt från strukturfunktionalistiska förklaringar till monopolistiska och kulturella. Samtidigt när det handlar om utveckling av en ny funktion kan olika aspekter av organisationer och organisering bidra till ökad förståelse av vilken betydelse det har för att även en profession ska kunna ta form.

I den här studien är det ett statligt behov som legat till grund för att en ny samhällsfunktion har kommit att utvecklas. Som ett led i genomförandet av politiska mål skapades förutsättningar för kommuner att ansöka om bidrag för att tillhandhålla en ny funktion: kommunal energi- och klimatrådgivning. Den nya funktionens främsta uppgift var att förmedla anpassad kunskap om energieffektivisering, energianvändning och klimatpåverkan till allmänhet, företag och organisationer. Fokus i studien har varit på hur organiseringen kring den nya funktionen sett ut, vilken roll IT har i detta och vilka konsekvenser organiseringen haft för samordning och för skapandet av en profession. Dessa områden hanteras i tre artiklar. Den första artikeln undersöker om och hur en professionell identitet kan formas som ett led i utvecklingen av en ny samhällsfunktion. Fokus ligger på hur reglerande och framväxande krafter samspelar och kompletterar varandra i formandet av en enhetlig tolkning av en professionell identitet. Den andra artikeln utforskar hur kunskap och praktik kan strömlinjeformas i en decentraliserad verksamhet, där styrningen karaktäriseras av olika intressenters inblandning. Den tredje artikeln undersöker hur samverkan utifrån samordnade insatser kring kunskap och kunskapsdelning kan växa fram och på så sätt skapa livskraftiga nätverk.

Organiseringen kring den nya samhällsfunktionen visar på både ett decentraliserat och ett centraliserat ansvar, där kommunerna har det operativa ansvaret och statens energimyndighet har ett övergripande administrativt och samordnande ansvar. Samordning sker på olika nivåer och på olika sätt. Bland annat har en regional samordning i nätverk vuxit fram. Den regionala samordningen har visat sig vara viktig för att en gemensam tolkning av uppdrag och utförande ska kunna ta form, men även för att tillit och identitet utvecklas inom gruppen. Den nationella samordningen rör bland annat utbildning och informationsinsatser och i detta sammanhang har IT haft en central roll. Sammantaget har olika aspekter av organisering kring en ny samhällsfunktion, såsom uppdragsreglering, planering och uppföljning, och inte minst samordning, bidragit till att en professionell identitet börjat växa fram.

Abstract [en]

The establishment of new public services and the evolvement of new professions as a consequence of identified needs in society is hardly something new, but what happens when a new decentralized service is created on the basis of governmental needs? How is it organized and how is it coordinated? Does the creation of a new service also lead to the development of a new profession? In profession literature different explanations of professions and professionalization are emphasized, e.g. functional, structural, monopolistic, and cultural. However, as it also concerns development of a new service, different aspects of organizations and organizing could contribute to increasing knowledge about its implications for the development of a profession

The current study concerns the development of a new service in response to a governmental need. As a step in carrying out political goals, conditions were set for local authorities to apply for funding in order to carry out a new service: local authority energy and climate consultancy. The primary task of the new service was to convey coordinated knowledge about energy efficiency, energy consumption and climate effects to the general public, businesses and organizations. Focus in this study has been on the organization of the service, what role IT has, and what the implications of this organizing are to coordination and the creation of a profession. These areas are covered in three articles. The first article explores if and how a professional identity is forming in the wake of the new service. Focus lies on how regulative and emergent forces interact and supplement each other in the formation of a coherent understanding of a professional identity. The second article explores how knowledge and practice could be aligned in a decentralized service, where control is characterized by the involvement of several stakeholders. The third article explores how networking could emerge from coordination of knowledge and knowledge exchange, and thus create viable networks.

Hence, the organization of the new public service shows both a decentralized and a centralized responsibility, where local authorities have the operative responsibility and the energy agency has an administrative and coordinative responsibility. Coordination is achieved on different levels and in different ways. For instance, a regional networking structure for coordination has emerged, and that regional coordination has itself shown to be important for a coherent understanding of the mission to  develop, but also for developing trust and identity within the group. The national coordination concerns training and information, and in this context IT plays an important role. Altogether, different aspects of organizing the new public service, i.e. regulations, planning and evaluation, and above all coordination, have contributed to the formation of a professional identity.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2012. 93 p.
Linköping Studies in Science and Technology. Thesis, ISSN 0280-7971 ; 1519
National Category
Engineering and Technology
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-74752 (URN)LiU-TEK-LIC 2012:04 (Local ID)978-91-7519-961-0 (ISBN)LiU-TEK-LIC 2012:04 (Archive number)LiU-TEK-LIC 2012:04 (OAI)
2012-02-17, Rum 3C:817, Hus A, Campus Valla, Linköpings universitet, Linköping, 13:15 (Swedish)
Available from: 2012-02-07 Created: 2012-02-07 Last updated: 2012-02-07Bibliographically approved

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Granath, MalinWestelius, Alf
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VITS - Development of Informations Systems and Work ContextThe Institute of TechnologyDepartment of Management and Engineering
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