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    Posted 03-26-2021 16:51
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    Dear colleagues,
    with apologies for cross-posting please find attached and below a gentle reminder of the Call for Papers for the 2021 edition of the Oxford Said Annual Conference on Professional Service Firms, which will take place on 12-14 September. 

    Hosted by the Oxford Said PSF Research Cluster  in collaboration with the Journal of Professions and Organizations, this year's conference theme is:

    From Expert to Orchestrator?
    Managing Integration, Integrity and Identity at the Boundaries of Professional Practice


    To be considered for inclusion in the conference please submit an abstract of ca 2000 words to PSFconference@sbs.ox.ac.uk by 30 April, 2021.

    Abstracts will be reviewed and decisions announced by 15 May, 2021. Full papers are due by August 31, 2021.

    Full details of the conference are below and attached.

    We look forward to receiving your submissions.


    Best wishes,

    Michael Smets


    12-14 September, 2021
    From Expert to Orchestrator?
    Managing Integration, Integrity and Identity at the Boundaries of Professional Practice


    The role of professionals in service delivery is increasingly shifting from expert to orchestrator. They are advising from within the boundaries of their technical expertise and integrating across disciplinary, organizational, technological and jurisdictional boundaries. Interdisciplinary projects, integrated client teams, innovation ecosystems, international networks, technology-augmented delivery models and disintermediated value chains are just some examples of the boundaries across which professionals are expected to integrate. Add to that the additional pressures of work-life 'integration' and remote working that the COVID-19 pandemic has produced and it is evident how – across all these trends – efforts of integration also produce challenges of integrity and identity for professionals, the organizations that employ them and the institutions that regulate them.

    We therefore invite contributions – both empirical and theoretical – which examine challenges of integration, integrity and identity at the boundaries of professional practice. These may be experienced at – or across - personal, organizational or institutional levels. We welcome manuscripts covering a range of professionals and professional organizations including law, accounting, architecture, healthcare, management consulting, and advertising. Indicative topics at the different levels may include, but are not limited to:


    Professionals: As professionals increasingly operate at – and across – various boundaries, how do individuals craft their identities (Ibarra & Petriglieri, 2010) and give meaning and coherence to their hybrid or multiplex existence, especially where new roles cut across previously separate domains with competing expectations (e.g., Adams, 2020; Ahuja, Nikolova, & Clegg, 2017; Hendrikx, 2017; Ibarra & Obodaru, 2016)? As organizational memberships become more fluid, how do professionals navigate the boundaries of individual and organizational identities (Kreiner, Hollensbe, & Sheep, 2006; LeBaron, Glenn, & Thompson, 2009)?

    How do professionals avoid the overload associated with the work of boundary-spanners (Marrone, Tesluk, & Carson, 2007) and protect their own well-being when flexible working affords an ever closer 'integration' of professional and personal lives (Mazmanian, Orlikowski, & Yates, 2013), especially at times of work-from-home regimes.


    Professional practice: How do professionals acquire the competence and practice of boundary-spanning (Levina & Vaast, 2005), especially at a time when such work increasingly involves integrating human and non-human elements of service provision (Armour & Sako, 2020; Kronblad, 2020)? How do long-established social practices of professional service coproduction (Nikolova, Reihlen, & Schlapfner, 2009) change when they are remote and digital? What are the boundary objects – digital or otherwise - that facilitate such integration? How does innovation spring from the integration of previously separate sets of expertise and practice (Barrett, Oborn, Orlikowski, & Yates, 2012; Cromwell & Gardner, 2020)?


    Professional firms: Orchestrating and integrating service elements across national (Klimkeit & Reihlen, 2016; Salvoldi & Brock, 2019) and intellectual domains (Anand, Gardner, & Morris, 2007) has long been the hallmark of professional firms. As PSFs become populated by a greater variety of professional and non-professional staff (Smets, Morris, von Nordenflycht, & Brock, 2017), how do leaders handle the risk of turf wars and create a sense of collective (Empson & Alvehus, 2020)? How do they ensure the integrity of their services when professional boundaries blur and ties to clients become ever closer (Gustafsson, Swart, & Kinnie, 2018; Muzio, Falconbridge, Gabbioneta, & Greenwood, 2016)?


    The system of professions: Finally, we encourage a shift in perspective from the "system of professions" (Abbott, 1988) to systems of professionals. As services are provided in increasingly distributed and collaborative ways, through service ecosystems, on-shored service centres, gig platforms (The Economist, 2015), and disintermediated value chains (Thomson Reuters, Georgetown Law, Saïd Business School, & Acritas, 2019), how do professional leaders enable collaboration between sometimes unexpected allies (O'Mahony & Bechky, 2008)? At the institutional level, how are jurisdictional battle lines drawn and professional codes of ethics enforced? What are the risks of de- professionalization and opportunities for re-professionalization – in service delivery systems (Kipping, Bühlmann, & David, 2019; McCann & Granter, 2019)? Do we need to fundamentally re-think our understanding of professional projects (Feyereisen & Goodrick, 2019), jurisdictional turf wars (Heusinkveld, Gabbioneta, Werr, & Sturdy, 2018) and professional boundary work (Liu, 2017) in the age of professional systems?



    • Please submit an abstract of ca 2000 words to PSFconference@sbs.ox.ac.uk by 30 April, 2021.
    • Abstracts will be reviewed and decisions announced by 15 May, 2021.
    • Full papers are due by August 31, 2021.


    Timing and Venue

    The 2021 conference will be a virtual event, held on September 12-14, 2021. Proceedings start with an informal get together on Sunday evening and conclude on Tuesday afternoon (GMT). The conference agenda will be mindful of participants' various locations and time zones in order to maximize opportunities for interaction and discussion for all participants.

    Should UK government advice and university policy allow international travel and in-person gatherings in September 2021, we may offer some opportunities for personal interaction at the Saïd Business School, University of Oxford. We will announce these options in early August 2021.

    There is no fee for attending the virtual conference.


    The Journal of Professions and Organization

    The conference will once again partner with the Journal of Professions and Organization (JPO), launched in 2013 by Oxford University Press to further research on professionals and their organizations. As in past years, the PSF Hub at Oxford is sponsoring JPO's Best Paper Award, and the winners will be recognized during a short ceremony at the Conference.


    In the first instance, please send an abstract of ca 2000 words to PSFconference@sbs.ox.ac.uk.

    Deadline for submissions is 30 April 2021.

    Michael Smets, Tim Morris, Mari Sako



    Abbott, A. D. 1988. The system of professions: An essay on the division of expert labor. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

    Adams, T. L. 2020. Professional employees and professional managers: Conflicting logics, hybridity, and restratification. Journal of Professions and Organization, 7(1): 101-115.

    Ahuja, S., Nikolova, N., & Clegg, S. 2017. Paradoxical identity: The changing nature of architectural work and its relation to architects' identity. Journal of Professions and Organization, 4(1): 2-19.

    Anand, N., Gardner, H., & Morris, T. 2007. Knowledge based innovation: Emergence and embedding of new practice areas in management consulting firms. Academy of Management Journal, 50(2): 406-428.

    Armour, J. & Sako, M. 2020. Ai-enabled business models in legal services: From traditional law firms to next-generation law companies? Journal of Professions and Organization, 7(1).

    Barrett, M., Oborn, E., Orlikowski, W. J., & Yates, J. 2012. Reconfiguring boundary relations: Robotic innovations in pharmacy work. Organization Science, 23(5): 1448-1466.

    Cromwell, J. R. & Gardner, H. K. 2020. High-stakes innovation: When collaboration in teams enhances (or undermines) innovation in professional service firms. Journal of Professions and Organization, 7(1): 2-26.

    Empson, L. & Alvehus, J. 2020. Collective leadership dynamics among professional peers: Co-constructing an unstable equilibrium. Organization Studies, 41(9): 1234–1256

    Feyereisen, S. & Goodrick, E. 2019. Who is in charge? Jurisdictional contests and organizational outcomes. Journal of Professions and Organization, 6(2): 233-245.

    Gustafsson, S., Swart, J., & Kinnie, N. 2018. 'They are your testimony': Professionals, clients and the creation of client capture during professional career progression. Organization Studies, 39(1): 73-92.

    Hendrikx, W. 2017. Priced not praised: Professional identity of gps within market-oriented healthcare reform. Journal of Professions and Organization, 5(1): 12-27.

    Heusinkveld, S., Gabbioneta, C., Werr, A., & Sturdy, A. 2018. Professions and (new) management occupations as a contested terrain: Redefining jurisdictional claims. Journal of Professions and Organization, 5(3): 248-261.

    Ibarra, H. & Petriglieri, J. L. 2010. Identity work and play. Journal of Organizational Change Management, 23(1): 10-25.

    Ibarra, H. & Obodaru, O. 2016. Betwixt and between identities: Liminal experience in contemporary careers. Research in Organizational Behavior, 36: 47-64.

    Kipping, M., Bühlmann, F., & David, T. 2019. Professionalization through symbolic and social capital: Evidence from the careers of elite consultants. Journal of Professions and Organization, 6(3): 265–285.

    Klimkeit, D. & Reihlen, M. 2016. Local responses to global integration in a transnational professional service firm. Journal of Professions and Organization, 3(1): 39-61.

    Kreiner, G. E., Hollensbe, E. C., & Sheep, M. L. 2006. On the edge of identity: Boundary dynamics at the interface of individual and organizational identities. Human Relations, 59(1): 1315-1341.

    Kronblad, C. 2020. How digitalization changes our understanding of professional service firms. Academy of Management Discoveries, 6(3): 436-454.

    LeBaron, C., Glenn, P., & Thompson, M. P. 2009. Identity work during boundary moments: Managing positive identities through talk and embodied interaction. In L. M. Roberts & J. E. Dutton (Eds.), Exploring positive identities and organizations: Building a theoretical and research foundations: 191-215. New York: Psychology Press.

    Levina, N. & Vaast, E. 2005. The emergence of boundary spanning competence in practice: Implications for implementation and use of information systems. MIS Quarterly, 29(2): 335.

    Liu, S. 2017. Boundaries and professions: Toward a processual theory of action. Journal of Professions and Organization, 5(1): 45-57.

    Marrone, J. A., Tesluk, P. E., & Carson, J. B. 2007. A multilevel investigation of antecedents and consequences of team member boundary-spanning behavior. Academy of Management Journal, 50(6): 1423-1439.

    Mazmanian, M., Orlikowski, W. J., & Yates, J. 2013. The autonomy paradox: The implications of mobile email devices for knowledge professionals. Organization Science, 24(5): 1337-1357.

    McCann, L. & Granter, E. 2019. Beyond 'blue-collar professionalism': Continuity and change in the professionalization of uniformed emergency services work. Journal of Professions and Organization, 6(2): 213-232.

    Muzio, D., Falconbridge, J., Gabbioneta, C., & Greenwood, R. 2016. Bad apples, bad barrels and bad cellars: A boundaries perspective on professional misconduct. In D. Palmer, R. Greenwood, & K. Smith-Crowe (Eds.), Organizational wrongdoing. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Nikolova, N., Reihlen, M., & Schlapfner, J.-F. 2009. Client–consultant interaction: Capturing social practices of professional service production. Scandinavian Journal of Management, 25(3): 289-298.

    O'Mahony, S. & Bechky, B. 2008. Boundary organizations: Enabling collaboration among unexpected allies. Administrative Science Quarterly, 53(422-459).

    Salvoldi, R. & Brock, D. M. 2019. Opening the black box of psf network internationalization: An exploration of law firm networks. Journal of Professions and Organization, 6(3): 304-322.

    Smets, M., Morris, T., von Nordenflycht, A., & Brock, D. M. 2017. 25 years since 'p2': Taking stock and charting the future of professional firms. Journal of Professions and Organization, 4(2): 91-111.

    The Economist. 2015. The on-demand economy: Workers on tap, The Economist, vol. January 3.

    Thomson Reuters, Georgetown Law, Saïd Business School, & Acritas. 2019. Alternative legal service providers 2019: Fast growth, expanding use and increasing opportunity.



    Michael Smets
    Oxford University