The Lemonade Stand with Federal Regulations: Ethical and Procedural Professionalization Among Peace Corps Staff

Saturday, June 25, 2016: 4:15 PM-5:45 PM
234 Dwinelle (Dwinelle Hall)
Meghan Kallman, Brown University, Providence, RI
Based in the neoinstitutional literature, this article asks how the institutional logic of professionalization travels through an organizational structure and becomes instantiated in observable phenomena. Using the US Peace Corps as a case study, I document the diffusion of the institutional logic of professionalization. I also interrogate it, and contribute to the literature by distinguishing between professionalization as an ethos, and professionalization a managerialistic style. In the literature, referring to a worker as a “professional” occasionally refers to someone with a sense of an occupational calling; the term is also often used to refer to the rigor of the occupational technique. However, and especially in a domain of technical uncertainty, the institutional literature would suggest that what workers really master is not technique, but rather display. Display—what I call procedural professionalization—is effectively the opposite of the internal commitment, what I refer to as ethical professionalization. Further, I document the effects of working in a decoupled organization for socially committed or altruistic workers, which is theoretically important because it reduces the plausibility of the logic of professionalization.