January 21, 2020

Kartikeya BAJPAI
EMLYON Business School

Cross- National Variation in Occupational Prestige: The Case of Privacy Officers in the United States and France

This article investigates cross-national differences in occupational prestige, comparing French and American privacy officers. Privacy officers design and implement programs to protect private information in organizations, and serve as key interfaces between organizations and their information environments.
The current study seeks to extend structuralist theories of occupational prestige which suggest that all complex societies engender similar hierarchies of occupations to a de novo occupation. In our chosen empirical case of privacy officers, we find that national contexts accord varying degrees of prestige to privacy officers. On the one hand, American privacy officers are upwardly mobile and endowed with the potential to become strategic organizational actors. On the other, French privacy officers are low-status actors largely relegated to documentation and compliance tasks.
Using a comparative case study method (with Canada as a control case) and a multimodal data corpus (interviews, newspaper articles, professional communication, and interaction), we offer a model of occupational prestige, theorizing that national regulatory, cultural, and institutional structures combine to produce differing perceptions of risk, ambiguity, and uncertainty. Such organizational perceptions meaningfully affect sensemaking-sensegiving patterns between regulators and privacy officers, and, as a consequence, occupational prestige. Overall, we make a case for extending the insights from the study of occupations (and professions) to emergent knowledge-work contexts.

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About Kartikeya Bajpai

Kartik is Assistant Professor of Work & Organizations at EM Lyon. His research interests focus on the embedding of knowledge workers and experts within organizations, using a variety of methodological approaches to understand these issues, including, big-data textual analysis, social network analysis, and field and interview methods. Kartik completed his PhD in the Management and Organizations department at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, and he is also a graduate of Penn State (M.S. in Information Science), University of Florida (Information Systems and Operations Management) and National Institute of Technology, Trichy (B.Tech in Computer Science & Engineering).