Rakesh Khurana (author of From Higher Aims to Hired Hands: The Social Transformation of American Business Schools and the Unfulfilled Promise of Management as a Profession due out this fall), Nitin Nohria, and Daniel Penrice explore:
To speak of the professional obligations of individuals such as CEOs and other executives is to imply that business management itself is a profession—but is it? Sociologists who study the professions have employed a wide range of perspectives and criteria for determining what makes an occupation a profession. For the purposes of our present inquiry, we have chosen four traits and practices out of the network of those that have been found to be associated with professions. We use these traits and practices both to set forth our own notion of the essence of professionalism and to enable us to compare management with what we take to be the bona fide professions, in particular law and medicine.2 Our criteria for calling an occupation a bona fide profession are as follows:
- a common body of knowledge resting on a well-developed, widely accepted theoretical base;
- a system for certifying that individuals possess such knowledge before being licensed or otherwise allowed to practice;
- a commitment to use specialized knowledge for the public good, and a renunciation of the goal of profit maximization, in return for professional autonomy and monopoly power;
- a code of ethics, with provisions for monitoring individual compliance with the code and a system of sanctions for enforcing it.