This paper examines how and why individuals distance themselves from the prescribed professional role that – like the ‘ideal worker’ image – centres on long work hours. Our study of audit and law professionals demonstrated that although many people complied with the professional role, some came to distance themselves from the professional role centred on long work hours. We develop a model of role distancing as consisting of two interrelated microprocesses: apprehension, involving a cognitive and emotional shift as individuals start envisaging their professional role as provisional and potentially changeable, and role redefinition, private and/or public, where individuals modify their work practices. In the firms we studied, although both men and women redefined their roles for themselves (private role redefinition), women were more likely than men to also redefine the professional role for external audiences (public role redefinition). Together, these findings highlight the importance of apprehension and role redefinition for role distancing, offer new insights into the role of emotions and material constraints, and thus enrich theory on role distancing. Link to the article
LUPU, I., RUIZ-CASTRO, M. and LECA, B. (2020). Role Distancing and the Persistence of Long Work Hours in Professional Service Firms. Organization Studies.