Multiple Forms of Professional Agency for (non)crafting of Work Practices in a Hospital Organization


  • Kaija Collin University of Jyvaskyla
  • Susanna Paloniemi University of Jyvaskyla
  • Katja Vähäsantanen University of Jyvaskyla



Health, working environment & wellbeing, Learning & compentencies, Identity, meaning & culture, Organization & management


In recent working life studies, professional agency is seen as pivotal to the development of work communities and work organizations. This paper addresses professional agency during a practicebased intervention (work conference) in a Finnish hospital setting. To develop work practices, the intervention sought to create a dialogical space for the promotion of collective professional agency. Here, we present an investigation of the manifestations of professional agency and how they emerged within and between professional groups. We also elaborate how professional positions frame the emergence of different manifestations of professional agency. The audio and video materials from the intervention are analyzed through the utilization of qualitative content analysis and analysis of key incidents illustrating the emergence of professional agency and its connection to prevailing circumstances in a hospital work context. Transformative, responsive, relational, and resisting forms of agency were identified. The emergence of these forms differed amid the intervention and across the professional groups, reflecting power relations in the organization. In light of the findings, we discuss the meaning of different forms of professional agency for developmental efforts and how professional agency may trigger or hinder sustainable organizational development.

Author Biographies

Kaija Collin, University of Jyvaskyla

University Researcher. email:

Susanna Paloniemi, University of Jyvaskyla

University Lecturer

Katja Vähäsantanen, University of Jyvaskyla

Postdoctoral Researcher




How to Cite

Collin, K., Paloniemi, S., & Vähäsantanen, K. (2015). Multiple Forms of Professional Agency for (non)crafting of Work Practices in a Hospital Organization. Nordic Journal of Working Life Studies, 5, 63–83.