Revitalizing the Quest for Professionalism in Business and Management: Purpose, Knowledge, Behavior, and Expectation

  •  A. Georges L. Romme    


One of the biggest challenges of our time is to develop the management discipline into a true profession. In this respect, business schools have been accused for failing to promote better policies and management practices as well as failing to educate students, as prospective managers, about their moral and social responsibilities. This essay outlines a multi-dimensional framework for professionalization, involving the dimensions of purpose, knowledge, behavior, and expectation. Subsequently, this framework is used to define and explore various paths out of the current intellectual stasis of the field of management and business. A key pathway is creating a shared sense of professional purpose and responsibility; another important route involves developing a professional body of knowledge informed by both discovery and validation; third, so-called ‘trading zones’ need to be developed, to offer opportunities for (professionals with) different voices and interests to meet; and the expectations that societal stakeholders have of professional conduct and performance by managers should be raised. Finally, the implications arising from these four pathways for business schools are explored. One of the most challenging implications is the need to improve the alignment between what management professors say they do and what they actually do – as researchers and educators.

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