Gendering Professionalism in the Internationalization of Information Work

Gendering Professionalism in the Internationalization of Information Work

Esther Ruiz Ben (Technical University of Berlin, Germany)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-0020-1.ch005
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Abstract

Professionalism as a particular form of organizing work has been challenged by internationalization dynamics, globalization, and the development of information and communication technologies. Mixed forms of organisational professionalism adopting managerialism principles with a global customer scope beyond national boundaries and combining different control sources of work and knowledge are being adopted by large enterprises to confront international organisational challenges. The structures and dynamics of internationally operating organizations must be adapted to the emerging transnational work requirements, and strictly locally situated institutions are compared with each other in international and transnational arenas. Moreover, due to the rapid internationalization and standardization of working processes that facilitate the transfer of tasks to lower-wage-countries,1 the definition of technical areas and tasks changes, and with it, their connotations of prestige and power. Thus, the development of mixed professionalism could be seen as a kind of institutional work and as a new form of organizing international work. It can also represent an opportunity for women to enter in emerging occupations and to establish in particular jurisdictional fields through the control of educational and training resources and the opportunity of configuring governance claims.
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Introduction

In this chapter I focus on the analysis of the gendering of professionalism taking place during the recodification process of tasks and knowledge due to internationalization of information work. I base upon professionalization theory emphasizing power issues and conceptualizing gender as institution and gendering as institutional work. As empirical illustration I will show some results of my research2 about the internationalization of the IT industry in Germany and the transformation and categorization of tasks and employees regarding gender, age, nationality and qualification.

Professionalism as a particular form of organizing work has experienced an important change in the recent years (Brock et al., 1999; Hanlon, 1999; Friedson, 2001) especially influenced among other factors by internationalization dynamics, globalization and the development of information and communication technologies. Mixed forms of organisational professionalism adopting managerialism principles with a global customer scope beyond national boundaries and combining different control sources of work and knowledge are being implemented by large enterprises to confront international organisational challenges. The ICT industry, especially the ICT service segment, is experiencing such a development of mixed professionalism forms due to rapid internationalization processes incorporating rational and legal forms of decision making, standardization of work practices and the performance control based on occupational training and certificates. Mixed forms of organizational Professionalism could be seen as an opportunity for women to enter in ICT occupations and to establish in particular jurisdictional fields through the control of educational and training resources and the opportunity of configuring governance claims and particular professional trajectories (Ruiz Ben, 2005). Nevertheless, organizational professionalism is influenced by the particular employment relations and institutional patterns existing in nation states related to education, qualification, care provision, gender policies or time regimes.

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