Mission Professional Performance

Description of the Mission

The mission of the focus area Professional Performance is to describe, analyse and evaluate transitions in and around professional services and professional work to help professionals to deal more effectively with changing contexts. 

The focus area connects the existing research traditions, activities and projects of five faculties, namely Medical Sciences, Social Sciences, Law, Economics and Governance, Veterinarian Sciences and the Humanities. These activities all focus on professionalism and transitions in professional work. In our research, we focus on classic professionals who have managed to institutionalise joint control of their own work (such as medical doctors, veterinarians, lawyers, accountants, judges, and professors; e.g. Krause 1996). We also focus on semi-professionals (e.g. Etzioni, 1969) who control significant parts of their work, such as policemen, social workers, nurses, and teachers. The way in which professionalism has been institutionalised, as well as the nature of professional work, will affect whether and how challenges are experienced and how professionals are or can be empowered to meet new challenges.

The focus area relates research activities and outcomes to multiple professional fields, especially medical, veterinarian, judicial, educational and accountancy fields, not only conceptually but also occupationally and practically. An emphasis on different fields allows us to tailor conceptual and theoretical models by applying them to different professional practices. It also allows us to make comparisons; not only inside but also in-between fields, inside and outside the Netherlands. Finally, it extends the relevance of our academic endeavours by combining different disciplines – sociology, psychology, economics, public administration, organisation studies, history, philosophy, as well as medical sciences, educational sciences, accounting studies – as well as attempts by different professional associations to improve professional action. Through research projects, international collaboration, conferences, advisory reports, contributions to debates, including public and political debates and an advisory council, academic insights and professional action are linked. The faculties involved in the research area also train and educate professionals and hence shape the professional fields being studied.

The overarching research question of this focus area is:
To what extent and in what ways are professionals empowered to cope with the many challenges they face, what factors and mechanisms affect this, and how can professionals be helped to deal more effectively with the challenges?

For more information, see position paper.