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Florence Nightingale Endures: Legitimizing a New Professional Role Identity


  • Elizabeth Goodrick
  • Trish Reay


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. Copyright (c) 2009 Blackwell Publishing Ltd and Society for the Advancement of Management Studies.

Suggested Citation

  • Elizabeth Goodrick & Trish Reay, 2010. "Florence Nightingale Endures: Legitimizing a New Professional Role Identity," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(1), pages 55-84, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:jomstd:v:47:y:2010:i:1:p:55-84

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Andrew D. Brown, 2006. "A Narrative Approach to Collective Identities," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 43(4), pages 731-753, June.
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    5. Steve Maguire & Nelson Phillips, 2008. "'Citibankers' at Citigroup: A Study of the Loss of Institutional Trust after a Merger," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 45(2), pages 372-401, March.
    6. Samia Chreim, 2005. "The Continuity-Change Duality in Narrative Texts of Organizational Identity," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 42(3), pages 567-593, May.
    7. Rodolphe Durand & Hayagreeva Rao & Philippe Monin, 2003. "Institutional Change in Toque Ville: Nouvelle Cuisine as an Identity Movement in French Gastronomy," Post-Print hal-00480858, HAL.
    8. Karen Golden-Biddle & Karen Locke, 1993. "Appealing Work: An Investigation of How Ethnographic Texts Convince," Organization Science, INFORMS, vol. 4(4), pages 595-616, November.
    9. Mary Ann Glynn & Michael Lounsbury, 2005. "From the Critics' Corner: Logic Blending, Discursive Change and Authenticity in a Cultural Production System," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 42(5), pages 1031-1055, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. O’Kane, Conor & Mangematin, Vincent & Geoghegan, Will & Fitzgerald, Ciara, 2015. "University technology transfer offices: The search for identity to build legitimacy," Research Policy, Elsevier, vol. 44(2), pages 421-437.
    2. André Spicer & Graham Sewell, 2010. "From National Service to Global Player: Transforming the Organizational Logic of a Public Broadcaster," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 47(6), pages 913-943, September.
    3. Allen, Davina, 2014. "Re-conceptualising holism in the contemporary nursing mandate: From individual to organisational relationships," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 119(C), pages 131-138.
    4. Daniel Muzio & David M. Brock & Roy Suddaby, 2013. "Professions and Institutional Change: Towards an Institutionalist Sociology of the Professions," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(5), pages 699-721, July.
    5. Fischer, Eileen & Rebecca Reuber, A., 2014. "Online entrepreneurial communication: Mitigating uncertainty and increasing differentiation via Twitter," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 29(4), pages 565-583.
    6. repec:bla:jomstd:v:54:y:2017:i:5:p:676-710 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Maxim Voronov & Dirk De Clercq & C. R. Hinings, 2013. "Conformity and Distinctiveness in a Global Institutional Framework: The Legitimation of Ontario Fine Wine," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 50(4), pages 607-645, June.
    8. Elisa Mattarelli & Maria Rita Tagliaventi, 2015. "How Offshore Professionals' Job Dissatisfaction Can Promote Further Offshoring: Organizational Outcomes of Job Crafting," Journal of Management Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 52(5), pages 585-620, July.
    9. Penny Dick, 2015. "To See Ourselves As Others See Us? Incorporating the Constraining Role of Socio-Cultural Practices in the Theorization of Micropolitical Resistance," Gender, Work and Organization, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 22(1), pages 16-35, January.

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