Scripting shifts in the regulatory structures: professional competence constructed as a lack

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This article engages with a critique of dominant conceptualizations of competence in the studies of work and organization, in particular, the common belief that competence is a stable category, reflecting a specific content. The article puts forward a conception of competence, envisaged as a mutable and fragmented construct, evolving in response to shifts in the regulatory structures and market conditions within a particular domain of the professional service firms, involved in consultancy and assurance work. Drawing on Jacques Lacan's theory of discourse, the article attends to some of the micro-processes associated with competence construction and maintenance in the realms of material practice. Empirical insights illustrate the possible ways in which employees attempt to script competence in the context of the socialized frames they are situated in and conforming to the regulatory standards, supporting the sense of their working life through effective performance. The possible rotations around the discourses, as conceptualized by Lacan, represent movements in the position of the subjects with respect to their own ways of experiencing lack through which ethically-driven responses can be taken up, subsequently leading to reproduction.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)577-595
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2013


  • discourse
  • identity
  • Lacan
  • lack
  • professional competence
  • script


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