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Practice makes perfect? Skillful performances in veterinary work

Clarke, Caroline A. and Knights, David (2018). Practice makes perfect? Skillful performances in veterinary work. Human Relations, 71(10) pp. 1395–1421.

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Is vetting a craft that must be learned owing to the limitations of scientific discipline, or simply a question of practice makes perfect? This question arose from our empirical research on veterinary surgeons (vets), who we found were often struggling with the divergence between the precise and unambiguous knowledge underlying the training and the unpredictability and imprecision of their everyday practices. These are comparatively underexplored issues insofar as the literature on vets tends to be descriptive and statistical, focusing primarily on clinical matters and associated human-animal interactions. Our cliché title has a question mark because while many vets remain embedded in the disciplined ‘certainties’ and causal regularities within their training, in practice this ordered world is rarely realized, and they are faced with indeterminacy where the ‘perfect’ solution eludes them. Vets often turn these unrealistic ideals of expertise back in on themselves, thus generating doubt and insecurity for any failure in their practices. In analysing vets’ experiences, we pay attention to the anatomical models of science, where linear causal analysis is expected to provide orderly and predictable outcomes or ‘right’ answers to problems, as well as notions of expertise that turn out to be illusory.

Item Type: Journal Item
Copyright Holders: 2018 The Authors
ISSN: 1741-282X
Project Funding Details:
Funded Project NameProject IDFunding Body
Who'd be a vet, eh?' Veterinary Surgeons, Professional Identities and Ideal Selves (B-13-045-CC)BAMRDGS2013_36871_29211British Academy of Management (BAM)
Not SetNot SetThe Open University
Keywords: competence; doubt practice; expert; medical; perfect; performances; science; skill; vets
Academic Unit/School: Faculty of Business and Law (FBL) > Business > Department for People and Organisations
Faculty of Business and Law (FBL) > Business
Faculty of Business and Law (FBL)
Item ID: 54895
SWORD Depositor: Jisc Publications-Router
Depositing User: Jisc Publications-Router
Date Deposited: 30 Apr 2018 09:52
Last Modified: 12 Nov 2019 12:33
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