Who Supports Professional Certification? Insights from Employment Arbitration

Mark Gough, Kyle Albert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Professional certification programmes became commonplace across the occupational structure in recent years, with many emerging and established professions opting to create their own certification programmes for reasons ranging from collective marketing to reducing malpractice litigation risk. Theories of social closure suggest that advantaged and established individual practitioners might want to use certification as a means of distinguishing themselves and enacting barriers to entry, though research on credentials and signalling theory leads to the expectation that certification is most valued by less secure and younger workers seeking to establish themselves in a profession. We use a survey of employment arbitrators as a case study in the dynamics of who supports certification, finding a surprisingly low overall level of support for certification. Arbitrators who are female, racial minorities and those who earn lower hourly rates are most supportive of creating and earning certification, suggesting that the most natural constituency for a new certification programme may be those looking to ‘break in’ to a profession rather than those already well established in their practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)850-869
Number of pages20
JournalBritish Journal of Industrial Relations
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Business, Management and Accounting
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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