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Managing international professional service firms: a review and future research agenda

Ciara O'Higgins (Deusto Business School, University of Deusto, Bilbao, Spain)
Nekane Aramburu (Deusto Business School, University of Deusto, San Sebastian, Spain)
Tatiana Andreeva (School of Business, Maynooth University, Maynooth, Ireland)

Baltic Journal of Management

ISSN: 1746-5265

Article publication date: 20 September 2021

Issue publication date: 3 January 2022




Research on international professional service firms (PSFs) has grown in recent years, reflecting the increasing relevance of these firms in the global economy. However, to date, no attempt has been made to systematically examine and integrate this literature. This study reviews the body of knowledge on the international management of PSFs and proposes a future research agenda that aims to strengthen the research on international PSFs, by applying the conceptual lens of PSF characteristics.


A systematic review of 108 empirical articles on the management of international PSFs was carried out.


The authors analyse where, how and what research was carried out on the international management of PSFs, and find that currently the field offers few opportunities to integrate findings or explain differences across different types of international PSFs. In recommendations for future research, the authors show how the lens of PSF characteristics can help overcome these issues and unveil promising avenues for future research that will lead to a more fine-grained theorising and understanding of the international management of PSFs.


The study provides a comprehensive state of the art of research on the international management of PSFs and a future research agenda, which builds on PSF characteristics to explore and better understand the heterogeneity of international PSFs, in order to develop more robust explanations of their behaviour and open new research avenues.



The second and third co-authors have contributed equally to the paper. The authors are grateful for the financial support of the Deusto University Research Training Grant Programme. The authors would like to express their sincere gratitude to the editor and reviewers for their insightful comments that helped improve this paper. An earlier version of this paper benefitted from valuable feedback at the AIB 2019 Annual Meeting in Copenhagen and the CYGNA (Supporting Women in Academia Network) Writing Bootcamp in 2019 in Middlesex University (UK), for which the authors are also thankful.


O'Higgins, C., Aramburu, N. and Andreeva, T. (2022), "Managing international professional service firms: a review and future research agenda", Baltic Journal of Management, Vol. 17 No. 1, pp. 34-55.



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