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Institutional Pillars and Contextualizing Public Interest in the Accounting Profession

Parables, Myths and Risks

ISBN: 978-1-78714-534-4, eISBN: 978-1-78714-533-7

Publication date: 18 July 2017


This paper presents an institutional theory framework integrating normative, regulatory and cognitive-cultural pillars (Scott, 2008) to depict an interinstitutional system within which professions operate and develop. The pillars highlight the trade-offs between institutions leading to conflicts of interest that also impact the stability of the system and the ability of the profession to self-regulate. To illustrate the framework, the paper uses selected accounting-based professions and their alignment with the institutional pillars. Drawing from examples emerging from the Enron experience, the paper delves more deeply into the regulatory profession and professionals as agents to explore implications of their role in interpreting and in some instances developing institutions. Further, the paper highlights the potential fissures that emerge in a competitive environment between the public interest and market-based cognitive-cultural pillars that tends to erode public trust and weaken the institutional system, leading to the need for increased regulation to maintain the stability of the pillars. Overall, the framework presents a unique perspective on the role of public interest as a component of the normative pillar in aligning and thereby, stabilizing the functioning of the interinstitutional system. This perspective provides a basis to contextualize and articulate a public interest perspective for the accounting profession in an interinstitutional system.



Joseph, G. (2017), "Institutional Pillars and Contextualizing Public Interest in the Accounting Profession", Parables, Myths and Risks (Advances in Public Interest Accounting, Vol. 20), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 135-165.



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