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Pushback on “Management As a Profession”

Writing in HBR, Cambridge University professor Richard Barker pushes back on the idea of “management as a profession” espoused by Rakesh Khurana, Nitin Nohria, and Joel Podolny:

“Hanging the mantle ‘professional’ on business education fosters inappropriate analysis and misguided prescriptions”

Barker’s objections include the notion of a “permanent knowledge asymmetry” between those inside true professions and those outside of them. Non-doctors and non-lawyers, he argues, have no choice but to rely on professionals, which he argues isn’t the case in  business. Does Barker have a point? In the HBR comment thread, author Chuck Blakeman suggests that debating over the the term professional itself may be an overly academic distraction – whether an activity has transformational results or not should be what’s important, not whether it falls into a certain definition.

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