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“No time to stand and stare”: Imagery of flexible work arrangements in Australian professional accounting journals

Margaret Lightbody (Business School, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, Australia)

Pacific Accounting Review

ISSN: 0114-0582

Article publication date: 18 July 2008

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to critically examine the imagery of flexible work arrangements in professional accounting employment, as presented in the Australian professional accounting journals from 2004‐2007.

Design/methodology/approach

The approach takes the form of a critical analysis of discourse in articles in professional accounting journals.

Findings

While talk of “balance” and “flexibility” is widespread in the professional accounting journals in Australia, accountancy is portrayed as an environment dominated by a “work hard, play hard” culture. Flexible work arrangements are presented as acceptable work practices when they provide a means of facilitating this culture, rather than as an alternative method of working.

Research limitations/implications

The Australian accounting professional bodies continue to actively portray the long hours culture of professional work (and play) as the foundation of success, despite widespread concern about, first, the long‐term implications of such a lifestyle for employees’ personal wellbeing and, second, the lack of appeal of such working conditions for both existing and potential employees.

Practical implications

Despite the rhetoric of the need for flexible work practices to attract/retain accounting talent, accountants may find that there is limited support within the profession to facilitate career development while utilising such arrangements as part‐time work.

Originality/value

The imagery of the contemporary accounting work environment as presented in the professional journals has not been examined in the accounting literature. As these journals are a primary means by which the profession communicates with its members, they present a good basis for examining how the accounting profession wishes itself to be perceived.

Keywords

Citation

Lightbody, M. (2008), "“No time to stand and stare”: Imagery of flexible work arrangements in Australian professional accounting journals", Pacific Accounting Review, Vol. 20 No. 2, pp. 138-157. https://doi.org/10.1108/01140580810892481

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited