An Anatomy of Autonomy: Managing Professionals.

Joseph A. Raelin
  • August 1989, The Academy of Management
  • DOI: 10.5465/ame.1989.4274740

What is it about?

The most vexing problem in the management of salaried professionals is how to provide them with their espoused right of autonomy while ensuring adequate control of the organization. In this article, Raelin explains how a standard approach of granting professionals operational autonomy (autonomy over the means or procedures to be used) while according management administrative and strategic autonomy (autonomy over the activities of the organizational unit or over the mission of the entire enterprise) is a convenient norm for executives to adopt in most situations. However, he goes on to illustrate how to manage the critical exceptions: those conditions under which professionals ought to be granted administrative and strategic autonomy and those conditions under which management may legitimately revoke the operational autonomy of the professional.

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