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Competence in professional practice: a practice theory analysis of police and doctors
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Education.
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Police Education Unit at Umeå University.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-1440-0470
2015 (English)In: Human Relations, ISSN 0018-7267, E-ISSN 1741-282X, Vol. 68, no 4, 561-582 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This article outlines a theoretical understanding of competence as the inferred potential for desirable activity within a professional practice. By employing the concept of ‘teleoaffective structure’ as developed in Schatzki’s practice theory, our study investigates how notions of competent and excellent professionals are defined in two separate practices in which highly qualified professionals share formal qualifications. The study is comparative and based on a total of 39 interviews carried out in the Swedish National Police Counter-Terrorist Unit (police) and with recruiters of medical interns (doctors) in Swedish healthcare. Results indicate that, despite obvious differences between the professional groups in the study, some remarkable similarities are apparent in what are regarded as high levels of competence. Surprisingly, technical expertise was downplayed as an indicator of high levels of competence in both practices. The professional groups emphasized flexibility, drive/ambition and social competence, as well as the ability to balance between being highly capable and being humble before others, including other groups of professionals as characteristics of excellence. Based on the results, the authors discuss a ‘logic of excellence’ that can be used to describe mechanisms of competence differentiation in professional practices from a practice theory perspective.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Sage Publications, 2015. Vol. 68, no 4, 561-582 p.
Keyword [en]
competence, medical doctors, police, practice theory, professional practice, professionalism
National Category
Work Sciences Pedagogy
Research subject
Business Studies; Education
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-90752DOI: 10.1177/0018726714532666ISI: 000352645900003OAI: diva2:731165
Available from: 2014-07-01 Created: 2014-07-01 Last updated: 2016-08-31Bibliographically approved

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Lindberg, OlaRantatalo, Oscar
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