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Private Social Investment Professionals in Brazil – are we there yet? Evidences from an Institutional Logics Approach

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Abstract:

This paper proposes a reflection on the increasing professionalization of Brazilian civil society from a specific point of view – the field of Private Social Investment (PSI). This concept, created by the Brazilian association of large donors – GIFE (Group of Institutes, Foundations and Enterprises) – is similar to what in other countries is called strategic, corporate or institutional philanthropy. Since the creation of the PSI concept and GIFE in the 1990s, the field is in constant development, at the same time pursuing both social benefit and investment impact. GIFE’s 137 members account for over a few thousands of professionals who are dedicated to fund, implement or support social projects, but it is still difficult to assess if there really is a professional of social investment.
Studies on professionalization seek to understand how these efforts reveal struggles for power and legitimacy – determining who has the authority to work in a given field – and bring a set of values and ethical principles, theoretical knowledge, practical and symbolic elements of their own. Literature also suggests that there is a trend towards professionalization of nonprofits (Hwang & Powell, 2009) and philanthropy (Saiia, Carroll & Buchholtz, 2003).
This paper aims to understand the process of formation of a new professional category in the social field – a Private Social Investment professional – using both professionalization and institutional logics literature and conducting a survey and in-depth interviews of professionals working in the sector.
Professionalization studies (such as Morrel, 2007 and Sciulli, 2005) aim to understand how “professional categories” come into being, when a group of individuals develop a shared identity both from work practices and a specific body of knowledge, resulting in cultural capital and an expertise status. This “community of experts” creates boundaries between professionals and the exterior world and ultimately aims at a monopoly, entitling them to be the sole professionals able to conduct this activity.
From an institutional perspective, professionalization is very important in the structuration of fields and the transformation of institutional logics (Lounsbury, 2007). There are some new studies pointing out the relevance of semi-professional categories, or “fluid professional communities” (Mendonça & Alves, 2012). In these nascent communities, agency depends on the ability to live with and explore different institutional logics (Cloutier & Langley, 2013), their inconsistencies and internal conflicts.
For our study, data comes from a survey done in early 2012. From a population of 1547 professionals, working in 137 GIFE’s members, there were 302 respondents (19.5%). The main questions included a profile of the respondents, their organizations and their personal vision on PSI and their professional trajectories. There will be a second phase based on in-depth interviews with philanthropists, managers and PSI professionals to further discuss the results of the survey in the next few months.
So far, early findings include:
- PSI still lacks a specific body of knowledge to support its claims and practices;
- However, there is a set of typical PSI practices, thus supporting the idea of a emmerging professionalization;
- These practices are guided by specific ethical principal supported by two very different institutional logics – one business-minded, the other forged in the social and public fields.

Therefore, the evidence we gathered points to a “fluid professional community” of people whose primary occupation concerns PSI. And they do it recursively, enabling symbolic (values, ideas, beliefs) and material (practices) mechanisms that, in turn, end up reinforcing specific logics, thus constituting an incipient “PSI professionalization”, even if this process appears less structured than other professionalization processes.
One of the main contributions of this paper is to evidence that professionalization of social issues in management – like PSI – might emerge driven from bodies like “fluid professional communities” submitted to different and conflitual logics, even in national contexts where there is a weaker tradition in philanthropy.

References
Cloutier, C., Langley, A.(2013). The logic of institutional logics: Insights from French pragmatist sociology, Journal of Management Inquiry, 22(4): 360-380.
Hwang, H., & Powell, W. W. (2009). The rationalization of charity: The influences of professionalism in the nonprofit sector. Administrative Science Quarterly, 54(2), 268-298.
Lounsbury, M. (2007). A tale of two cities: Competing logics and practice variation in the professionalizing of mutual funds. Academy of Management Journal, 50(2), 289-307.
Mendonça, P. M. & Alves, M. A. (2012). Institutional entrepreneurship and professionalization of the rural development of the sisal region in Brazil. Revista de Administração (São Paulo. Online), 47 (3): 489-499.
Morrell, K (2007) Re-defining Professions: Knowledge, organization and power as syntax. Electronic Journal of Radical Organization Theory, Critical Management Studies Proceedings. Disponível em:
http://www.mngt.waikato.ac.nz/ejrot/cmsconference/2007/proceedings/newperspectives/morrell.pdf. Access in 06/03/2013
Saiia, D. H., Carroll, A. B., & Buchholtz, A. K. (2003). Philanthropy as strategy when corporate charity “begins at home”. Business & Society, 42(2), 169-201.
Sciulli, D. (2005) Continental Sociology of Professions Today: Conceptual Contributions. Current Sociology, 53(6): 915–942.
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MLA Citation:

Alves, Mario., Nogueira, Fernando. and Schommer, Paula. "Private Social Investment Professionals in Brazil – are we there yet? Evidences from an Institutional Logics Approach" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the ISTR 11th Annual Conference, University of Muenster, Muenster, Germany, Jul 22, 2014 <Not Available>. 2014-12-09 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p709863_index.html>

APA Citation:

Alves, M. A., Nogueira, F. and Schommer, P. C. , 2014-07-22 "Private Social Investment Professionals in Brazil – are we there yet? Evidences from an Institutional Logics Approach" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the ISTR 11th Annual Conference, University of Muenster, Muenster, Germany <Not Available>. 2014-12-09 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p709863_index.html

Publication Type: Full Research Paper
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: This paper proposes a reflection on the increasing professionalization of Brazilian civil society from a specific point of view – the field of Private Social Investment (PSI). This concept, created by the Brazilian association of large donors – GIFE (Group of Institutes, Foundations and Enterprises) – is similar to what in other countries is called strategic, corporate or institutional philanthropy. Since the creation of the PSI concept and GIFE in the 1990s, the field is in constant development, at the same time pursuing both social benefit and investment impact. GIFE’s 137 members account for over a few thousands of professionals who are dedicated to fund, implement or support social projects, but it is still difficult to assess if there really is a professional of social investment.
Studies on professionalization seek to understand how these efforts reveal struggles for power and legitimacy – determining who has the authority to work in a given field – and bring a set of values and ethical principles, theoretical knowledge, practical and symbolic elements of their own. Literature also suggests that there is a trend towards professionalization of nonprofits (Hwang & Powell, 2009) and philanthropy (Saiia, Carroll & Buchholtz, 2003).
This paper aims to understand the process of formation of a new professional category in the social field – a Private Social Investment professional – using both professionalization and institutional logics literature and conducting a survey and in-depth interviews of professionals working in the sector.
Professionalization studies (such as Morrel, 2007 and Sciulli, 2005) aim to understand how “professional categories” come into being, when a group of individuals develop a shared identity both from work practices and a specific body of knowledge, resulting in cultural capital and an expertise status. This “community of experts” creates boundaries between professionals and the exterior world and ultimately aims at a monopoly, entitling them to be the sole professionals able to conduct this activity.
From an institutional perspective, professionalization is very important in the structuration of fields and the transformation of institutional logics (Lounsbury, 2007). There are some new studies pointing out the relevance of semi-professional categories, or “fluid professional communities” (Mendonça & Alves, 2012). In these nascent communities, agency depends on the ability to live with and explore different institutional logics (Cloutier & Langley, 2013), their inconsistencies and internal conflicts.
For our study, data comes from a survey done in early 2012. From a population of 1547 professionals, working in 137 GIFE’s members, there were 302 respondents (19.5%). The main questions included a profile of the respondents, their organizations and their personal vision on PSI and their professional trajectories. There will be a second phase based on in-depth interviews with philanthropists, managers and PSI professionals to further discuss the results of the survey in the next few months.
So far, early findings include:
- PSI still lacks a specific body of knowledge to support its claims and practices;
- However, there is a set of typical PSI practices, thus supporting the idea of a emmerging professionalization;
- These practices are guided by specific ethical principal supported by two very different institutional logics – one business-minded, the other forged in the social and public fields.

Therefore, the evidence we gathered points to a “fluid professional community” of people whose primary occupation concerns PSI. And they do it recursively, enabling symbolic (values, ideas, beliefs) and material (practices) mechanisms that, in turn, end up reinforcing specific logics, thus constituting an incipient “PSI professionalization”, even if this process appears less structured than other professionalization processes.
One of the main contributions of this paper is to evidence that professionalization of social issues in management – like PSI – might emerge driven from bodies like “fluid professional communities” submitted to different and conflitual logics, even in national contexts where there is a weaker tradition in philanthropy.

References
Cloutier, C., Langley, A.(2013). The logic of institutional logics: Insights from French pragmatist sociology, Journal of Management Inquiry, 22(4): 360-380.
Hwang, H., & Powell, W. W. (2009). The rationalization of charity: The influences of professionalism in the nonprofit sector. Administrative Science Quarterly, 54(2), 268-298.
Lounsbury, M. (2007). A tale of two cities: Competing logics and practice variation in the professionalizing of mutual funds. Academy of Management Journal, 50(2), 289-307.
Mendonça, P. M. & Alves, M. A. (2012). Institutional entrepreneurship and professionalization of the rural development of the sisal region in Brazil. Revista de Administração (São Paulo. Online), 47 (3): 489-499.
Morrell, K (2007) Re-defining Professions: Knowledge, organization and power as syntax. Electronic Journal of Radical Organization Theory, Critical Management Studies Proceedings. Disponível em:
http://www.mngt.waikato.ac.nz/ejrot/cmsconference/2007/proceedings/newperspectives/morrell.pdf. Access in 06/03/2013
Saiia, D. H., Carroll, A. B., & Buchholtz, A. K. (2003). Philanthropy as strategy when corporate charity “begins at home”. Business & Society, 42(2), 169-201.
Sciulli, D. (2005) Continental Sociology of Professions Today: Conceptual Contributions. Current Sociology, 53(6): 915–942.


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