Florence Nightingale Endures: Legitimizing a New Professional Role Identity

30 Pages Posted: 17 Nov 2009

See all articles by Elizabeth Goodrick

Elizabeth Goodrick

Florida Atlantic University - Department of Industry Studies

Trish Reay

University of Alberta - Department of Strategic Management and Organization

Abstract

We examined the discursive processes through which a new professional role identity for registered nurses was legitimized by analysing introductory textbooks over time. We theorize five ways of rhetorically legitimizing a new professional role identity: naturalizing the past, normalizing new meanings, altering identity referents, connecting with the institutional environment, and referencing authority. In contrast to previous research focused on legitimizing new practices, we contribute to the institutional literature by showing that legitimizing a professional role identity requires the incremental development of new arguments where the past is not delegitimized. Our findings also indicate that instead of a progression from moral and pragmatic legitimacy to cognitive legitimacy, legitimizing a new role identity may focus only on moral legitimacy. Finally, our study highlights the importance of interactions between the professional task environment and the wider institutional environment as part of the process of legitimizing a professional role identity.

Suggested Citation

Goodrick, Elizabeth and Reay, Trish, Florence Nightingale Endures: Legitimizing a New Professional Role Identity. Journal of Management Studies, Vol. 47, Issue 1, pp. 55-84, January 2010, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1505039 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-6486.2009.00860.x

Elizabeth Goodrick (Contact Author)

Florida Atlantic University - Department of Industry Studies ( email )

College of Business
777 Glades Road
Boca Raton, 33431
United States

Trish Reay

University of Alberta - Department of Strategic Management and Organization ( email )

Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2R6
Canada
780-492-4246 (Phone)
780-492-3325 (Fax)

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