Unravelling a profession: The case of engineers in a British regional electricity company

Chris Carter*, David Crowther

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper explores the position of engineers within a British Regional Electricity Company following privatisation and examines the effects that privatisation had upon the engineering profession within the company. The change programme introduced had profound effects on the engineers within the organisation with engineering tasks being deskilled. A comparison is made between engineers in this environment and the accounting profession to demonstrate the parallels between the changes taking place within these two professions. Following the organisational change process the role of the engineer has arguably been "unravelled" from being a demarcated profession to one that resembles the archetypal British experience. The processes within the organisation which led to this "deprofessionalisation" of engineers can be viewed as "technologies of power" which changed the organisation as it attempted to "normalise" towards the dominant Power/Knowledge discourse. The inability for the engineering profession to prevent an erosion of their status is examined together with the effects that marginalising engineering has had for the organisation in terms of the repertoires that constitute organisational performance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-49
Number of pages27
JournalCritical Perspectives on Accounting
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2000


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