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Bad apples, bad barrels and bad cellars: a ‘boundaries’ perspective on professional misconduct

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Daniel Muzio, Dr Claudia Gabbioneta



This is the final published version of a book chapter that has been published in its final definitive form by Cambridge University Press, 2016.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


Professions have traditionally been thought to act as 'social trustees' of key skills for the benefit of society as a whole or as 'gatekeepers' who play a fundamental role in maintaining the integrity of broader institutions. Yet recent scandals from Enron to Parmalat and the recent financial crisis call into question the fiduciary role played by the professions. Thus, rather than as gatekeepers and social trustees, professions may have acted, perhaps unwittingly, as accomplices if not masterminds in recent episodes of corporate wrongdoing. This chapter focuses on the issue of professional misconduct and approaches this through the consideration of a number of key boundaries that frame professional practice and the tensions, conflicts, opportunities, and temptations these generate. It identifies three types of boundaries: ‘jurisdictional’ (between different occupational domains), ‘geo-political’ (between different national realms), and ‘ecological’ (between stakeholders such as practitioners, clients and employers) and considers how each generates distinct opportunities for misconduct. By looking at how these boundaries have changed over time and the consequences for professional practice, this chapter offers a dynamic account of professional misconduct that complements existing views of professions as inherently good or bad.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Muzio D, Faulconbridge J, Gabbioneta C, Greenwood R

Editor(s): Palmer, D; Smith-Crowe, K; Greenwood, R;

Publication type: Book Chapter

Publication status: Published

Book Title: Organizational Wrongdoing : Key Perspectives and New Directions

Year: 2016

Pages: 141-175

Print publication date: 18/07/2016

Online publication date: 01/07/2016

Acceptance date: 24/07/2015

Publisher: Cambridge University Press

Place Published: Cambridge, UK


DOI: 10.1017/CBO9781316338827.007

Library holdings: Search Newcastle University Library for this item

ISBN: 9781107117716