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Forever a profession in the making? The intermediate status of project managers in Germany

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Manuel Nicklich, Timo Braun, Johann Fortwengel

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Professions and Organization
Accepted/In press24 Aug 2020

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Abstract

Research typically finds that several new professions are barely institutionalized. Labels such as ‘semi-profession’, ‘emerging profession’ or ‘commercialized profession’ have been developed to capture this notion of professions in the making. Yet there is limited understanding of the factors contributing to such an intermediate status. Employing a relational perspective on professions, we study the case of project managers in Germany to shed light on the underlying reasons for this limited institutionalization. We show how project managers in Germany face a particular field of relations populated by various stakeholders, including neighboring occupations embedded in existing institutional structures, which helps explain their sustained status as a profession in the making. Our study contributes to the literature by revealing the reasons for this limited institutionalization, and by offering a positive mapping of professions in the making, as opposed to seeing them either as failed professionalization projects or merely as a stage in the process toward full professionalization.

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