University of Oulu

Lunkka, N., Jansson, N., Mainela, T., Suhonen, M., Meriläinen, M., Puhakka, V., & Wiik, H. (2021). Professional boundaries in action: Using reflective spaces for boundary work to incorporate a new healthcare role. Human Relations.

Professional boundaries in action : using reflective spaces for boundary work to incorporate a new healthcare role

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Author: Lunkka, Nina1,2; Jansson, Noora2; Mainela, Tuija2;
Organizations: 1University of Eastern Finland, Finland
2University of Oulu Business School, Finland
3University of Lapland, Finland
4University of Oulu, Finland
5Oulu University Hospital, Finland
Format: article
Version: accepted version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.8 MB)
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Language: English
Published: SAGE Publications, 2021
Publish Date: 2022-02-09


Prior research on professional boundary work emphasises the importance of subtle interactions among affected individuals when a new role is inserted into an established professional setting, which inevitably changes the prevalent division of labour. Thus, managers may set reflective spaces for professionals to collaboratively arrange their boundaries and make room for the new professional. This ethnomethodologically oriented study examines boundary arrangements in work development meetings in a university hospital, while professionals made room for a new role, a hospitalist. Examining professionals’ naturally occurring interactions in reflective spaces, the findings depict seven categorisations for the hospitalist. Elaborating on the dynamics of these categorisations, we propose that technically based categorisations sustain stability, and context-bound categorisations allow change in work practices, whereas their combination enables transformation within the institutional context. Accordingly, the study adds to the literature on the transformative potential of reflective spaces by illuminating the intertwining of engaged professionals’ boundary talk in interaction with the consequences of configurational boundary work in relation to a new professional role.

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Series: Human relations
ISSN: 0018-7267
ISSN-E: 1741-282X
ISSN-L: 0018-7267
Volume: In press
DOI: 10.1177/00187267211010363
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 512 Business and management
Copyright information: © 2021 SAGE Publications. The final authenticated version is available online at