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Date / Heure
Date(s) - 29 janvier 2019
12 h 15 min - 14 h 00 min






Une conférence de Laura Empson intitulée

Reconciling the autonomy / control paradox: Collegiality and collective leadership among professional peers

Laura Empson
Professor in the Management of Professional Service Firms
Cass Business School
City, University of London

Date: Mardi 29 janvier 2019
Heure: 12h15-14h
Lieu: HEC Montréal
Salle: Rona (1er étage, section bleue)

Conférence donnée en anglais
Presentation in English
Apportez votre lunch, café et jus seront servis!



This paper examines how expectations of autonomy and requirements for control are reconciled among professional peers. It is based on an analysis of three elite global professional service firms and draws on data from 105 interviews with senior professionals in these two law firms and one consulting firm.  It finds that in the law firms professional socialisation and social embeddedness among partners provide the preconditions under which collegiality and collective leadership can emerge. These enable partners’ expectations of individual autonomy as professionals to be reconciled with their requirement for control as owners of the businesses.  By contrast, in the elite consulting firm, professional socialisation and social embeddedness are entirely absent as senior professionals typically join the firm at a much later stage in their careers and are drawn from a range of different professions and occupations.  Collegiality and collective leadership prevail here also, but are enacted through the creation of “cult-like” mechanisms of social control which ensure that senior professionals nevertheless perceive themselves as acting autonomously.  The paper explores the practices and preconditions through which collegiality and collective leadership are constituted.  It questions idealised notions of collegiality and collective leadership among professional peers to emphasise the cult-like conformity that may underlie the rhetoric or consensus.


Author’s bio

Laura Empson is Professor in the Management of Professional Service Firms, Cass Business School, London; Senior Research Fellow, Harvard Law School, Cambridge, MA. Laura has dedicated the past 25 years to researching the professions, professionals and professional service firms, covering themes such: as leadership dynamics, governance, mergers and acquisitions, professionalisation of management, identity, knowledge management, diversity, and overwork.  She has also published autoethnographic studies about doing impactful research and the challenges of crossing the research practice divide.  In addition to numerous articles in leading international academic journals she has published three books with Oxford University Press, Leading Professionals: Power, Politics, and Prima Donnas (2017), Oxford Handbook of Professional Service Firms (2015) and Managing the Modern Law Firm (2007).


Cette conférence est organisée conjointement avec la Chaire en gestion stratégique en contexte pluraliste.