The Professions in Theory and History: the Case of Pharmacy
This paper puts forward an economic theory of professions, and tests that theory against the history of pharmacy practice. The paper defines a profession as a network of strategic alliances across ownership boundaries among independent practitioners who share a core competency. It then differentiates among alternative economic institutions by examining their capabilities and strategies for coordinating exchange and production. In ther case of pharmacy, the pharmacist's central task has always been the certification of the strength and purity of medicinal drugs. Over time, changes in technology and institutions, coupled with evolving theories of disease, have altered the location of drug research, production and dispensing. Each episode of change has resulted in border skirmishes between pharmacy and medicine, which have spilled over onto other institutions.