Member Publication: The Role of Discernment and Modulation in Enacting Occupational Values: How Career Advising Professionals Navigate Tensions with Clients

Hi OOW Members! Check out this new publication from OOW Member Professor Curtis K. Chan and Ph.D. student Luke Hedden:

Citation: Chan, Curtis K. and Luke N. Hedden. 2021. “The Role of Discernment and Modulation in Enacting Occupational Values: How Career Advising Professionals Navigate Tensions with Clients.” Academy of Management Journal

Abstract: Enacting occupational values is vitally important to expert professionals’ solidarity and sense of purpose. Yet, many professionals face audiences in their relational contexts—especially powerful clients—who can hold incongruent values and may threaten professionals’ jurisdictional control. How can experts enact their values without jeopardizing their jurisdictional control amidst clients holding incongruent values? We examine career advisers in undergraduate business schools, whose occupational values often contrasted with values common among their student clients. Through an ethnography of one school’s career advisers, combined with interviews of such advisers throughout the U.S., we find that advisers navigated interactions by discerning student values and accordingly modulating their value-enactment practices through masking, moderating, or magnifying their values. This allowed advisers to uphold their jurisdictional control when facing students exhibiting incongruent values, while enacting their values with students exhibiting unclear or congruent values. We contribute to the relational perspective on occupations and professions by positing how discernment and modulation help experts navigate relational tensions by recognizing and drawing on intra-clientele heterogeneity, unpacking how professionals might not entirely resist or change amidst incongruence but instead pursue a more mixed approach, and highlighting when and how experts mask or moderate rather than overtly enact their values.

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