University of Leicester
2019HOLMESCSPHD.pdf (1.93 MB)

The Nature, Form And Purpose Of Contemporary Professional Associations: An Extended Case Study Of The British Association For Counselling And Psychotherapy

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posted on 2019-12-06, 10:01 authored by Cristian S. Holmes
This thesis is an exploration of the nature, form and purpose of contemporary professional associations. The research focuses on a single primary case, the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy. Through an adaptation of an Extended Case Method, the research draws on 34 interviews, both from inside the organisation and other associations. It triangulates interview data by drawing on over 1,500 articles and letters published in BACP’s journal.
The research explores professional associations as hybrid organisations, home to four primary institutional logics: to the member; the profession; the public; and to the organisation. These logics change and vary their centrality overtime. Dominant logics towards the membership and profession are consistently central, but at different points in the associations’ history, the logics of public and organisation have competed for centrality. Hybridity and institutional logics effectively describe the nature of the association and why there is often a perceived conflict between its roles. Literature is often inattentive to the role of associations in this regard and has a tendency to underplay an associations importance and agency. The thesis suggests associations plays central roles in the organisation of a profession and its articulation of jurisdictional claims and defences. These roles are complicated by the inherent heterogeneity within a profession. These two roles, that create central institutional logics within an association, are explored more fully. Finally, the thesis explores the strength of institutional isomorphism as an adequate explanation for perceived high degrees of conformity between associations. It suggests associations are isomorphic at functional and structural levels, but are plurally isomorphic at a cultural level.



Paul Brook; Sarah Robinson

Date of award


Author affiliation

School of Business

Awarding institution

University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • PhD



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    University of Leicester Theses