Professions under siege


  • Shirin Ahlbäck Öberg
  • Thomas Bull
  • Ylva Hasselberg
  • Niklas Stenlås


The purpose of this article is to analyse the effects of New Public Management (NPM) reforms on three specific professional groups. From this investigation it is clear that the assumptions inherent in the NPM reforms have resulted in a clear breach of what we theoretically refer to as the professional contract between the state and the professions. We show in this analysis that our studied professional groups have lost central aspects of their professional autonomy. We problematize the perception that an ever-increasing demand for steering and control of professionals within the public sector should be perceived as some- thing exclusively good. In addition to the costs of monitoring, the centrally important paradox of accountability should be taken into consideration, i.e. responsible interpretation and application of external accountability demands rest on the cultivation of the virtues that support good administrative judgement, the type of judgement that is threatened by the control-schemes presented in this article.