business, construction, framework, practitioner, professionalism, rescue


Purpose and context: The purpose of the study was to explore the construction of professionalism in a multiple professional bodies (MPB) landscape in South Africa (SA) and demonstrate how this construction can be used to enhance a professional accreditation regime. Professional accreditation has become a pre-requisite for business rescue practitioners (BRPs). The Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) licensing is linked to multiple professional bodies’ knowledge and practices but are not generic. This study was guided by one key question: How do PBs providing BRPs construct professionalism, and to what extent can the existing construction of professionalism facilitate the development of a professional accreditation regime?

Research design and methods: A qualitative research design used required researchers to use four consecutive steps, namely (a) interviewing member services’ managers at four professional bodies (PBs); (b) systematic content analysis of codes of professional conduct and policy statements to identify constituent professionalism notions; (c) a systematic search of the literature to identify notions of professionalism mentioned in definitions and explanations of the construct; and (d) analysis of notions of professionalism using the constant comparison procedure to reveal critical themes.

Results: A total of 90 separate notions of professionalism were identified in the 192 scholarly papers included in our study. The identified themes within business rescue practitioner (BRP) professionalism (emphasising relational aspects) point to practitioner dealings with (i) clients (business rescue candidates); (ii) government and others; (iii) the PB; and (iv) oneself to gain the essence of occupation. There is fragmentation between the constructed conceptualisations of professionalism among PBs, leading to an incoherent and inconsistent expert accreditation regime.

Practical implications and value: The results from the indicated exploration steps were used to advance a programmatic framework to construct professionalism in an MPB landscape and set a future research agenda. The results also show that business rescue practitioners’ professionalism cannot be attained in a multi-professional body setting with an integrated professional accreditation framework.

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