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Article
Publication date: 1 February 1998

Helen Stuart

Bernstein wrote that we should be concerned about the image our company projects not because we want to manufacture it but because we need to discern how we are being…

Abstract

Bernstein wrote that we should be concerned about the image our company projects not because we want to manufacture it but because we need to discern how we are being received and how those perceptions square with our self‐image (Bernstein 1984, 13). The importance of image being based on reality was incorporated by Abratt (1989) into his conceptual model in the form of an ‘interface’. This interface can be conceived of as the moment of truth for an organisation where the corporate identity is externalised, and, therefore, examination of the dynamics of this interface is of vital interest to corporate identity research. The results of empirical research into this interface, denoted as the corporate identity/corporate image interface in this research, are presented in this paper. A resultant model of the corporate identity management process is then advanced, based on the dimensions of a factor analysis of the multi‐item scale developed for the research. The research revealed that, whereas the selection of an accountancy firm is based on the corporate image that it projects, retention of an accountancy firm is based on continuing positive experiences, including the responsiveness of employees, the physical environment and the values that the accountancy firm holds dear. This implies that the corporate identity/corporate image interface must be a coherent entity for the successful projection of corporate identity.

Details

Journal of Communication Management, vol. 2 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1363-254X

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Article
Publication date: 19 June 2017

Angus Duff

The purpose of this paper is to consider how Big Four and mid-tier accountancy firms in the UK are responding to political concerns about social mobility and Fair Access…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to consider how Big Four and mid-tier accountancy firms in the UK are responding to political concerns about social mobility and Fair Access to the accountancy profession.

Design/methodology/approach

Interviews were undertaken with 18 public accountancy firms, ranked in the Top 30 by fee income, operating in the UK to identify how they are recruiting staff in the light of the Fair Access to the Professions’ agenda. Bourdieusian sociology is used to inform the findings.

Findings

The Big Four firms employ a discourse of hiring “the brightest and the best” to satisfy perceived client demand, where symbolic capital is instantiated by reputational capital, reflecting prestige and specialisation, supported by a workforce with elite credentials. For mid-tier firms, reputational capital is interpreted as the need for individuals to service a diverse client portfolio. In general, most interviewees demonstrated relatively limited awareness of the issues surrounding the Fair Access agenda.

Research limitations/implications

The interviews with accountancy firms are both exploratory and cross-sectional. Furthermore, the study was undertaken at an embryonic point (2010) in the emerging Fair Access discourse. Future work considering the accountancy profession could usefully examine if, and how, matters have progressed.

Social implications

The investigation finds that accountancy firms remain relatively socially exclusive, largely due to the requirement for high educational entry standards, and interviewees’ responses generally indicate only limited attempts at engagement with political agendas of promoting Fair Access to the profession.

Originality/value

This paper is the first to empirically evaluate how the accountancy profession is responding to the Fair Access agenda; documents changing patterns of recruitment in accountancy employment, including the hiring of non-graduates to undertake professional work; and augments the literature considering social class and accounting.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 30 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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Article
Publication date: 28 March 2008

Prem Sikka

The purpose of this paper is to seek to illuminate some of the dynamics of globalization that enable capital to advance its interests.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to seek to illuminate some of the dynamics of globalization that enable capital to advance its interests.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper uses theories of globalization focusing upon the “race‐to‐the‐bottom”. Such theories draw attention to the way major businesses are using their power to secure advantages, often by playing‐off one nation state against another. Increasingly, offshore financial centres (OFCs) are becoming key players in this race. The paper uses a case study relating to the enactment of limited liability partnership (LLP) in Jersey, a UK Crown Dependency. The legislation was financed and developed by the UK firms, Price Waterhouse and Ernst & Young in collaboration with a network of advisers.

Findings

The paper sheds light on the resources deployed by major accountancy firms to secure conditions necessary for the smooth accumulation of private wealth and power. Accountancy firms used OFCs or microstates to reposition the state‐capital relationship in globalization and reconfigure the UK auditor liability laws. The paper also highlights the importance of the state to capital and globalization.

Research limitations/implications

In common with major capitalist enterprises, accountancy firms rarely provide background material to explain how they advance their interests. Inevitably, this limits the analysis. Nevertheless, the case study shows some trajectories that have enabled accountancy firms to advance their economic interests.

Practical implications

The paper shows that accountancy firms are able to use novel tactics to advance their interests and that national regulation cannot easily be understood without consideration of the wider international context.

Originality/value

Accounting researchers have rarely focused upon the use of offshore financial centres by major accountancy firms to advance their interests. It also shows that the local and the global are intertwined.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 21 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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Book part
Publication date: 27 October 2016

James C. Lampe, Andy Garcia and Kerri L. Tassin

This article is the third in a trilogy of articles that discuss the professionalism (or deprofessionalism) of the accounting profession. The first examines the slow uphill…

Abstract

This article is the third in a trilogy of articles that discuss the professionalism (or deprofessionalism) of the accounting profession. The first examines the slow uphill climb of accounting and auditing practice to the level of being recognized as a highly trusted profession. The second examines the stagnation in professionalism leading to deprofessionalization of the accounting profession. This third article looks at the resulting directionless efforts of accounting and auditing firms in the wake of major deprofessionalization events. The interest in this study is the time period immediately following the passage of the Sarbanes–Oxley Act (SOX) of 2002 which is described in this paper as the “Post-SOX” history of public accountancy in the United States. During this time period, nearly equally mixed activities of professionalism and deprofessionalism have resulted in a status quo with directionless efforts doing little if anything to reverse decline in professionalism. Public accountants continued to experience conflict with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) over independence rules. The large Certified Public Accountant firms generated controversies and squabbles concerning “auditing and consulting,” while at the same time they faced questions regarding the marketing and selling of aggressive tax shelters. In addition, most of the self-regulating aspects of the profession declined dramatically following passage of SOX. While initially both tax fees and audit fees of CPA firms increased during this time period, concerns are again arising as the large CPA firms more recently have renewed the emphasis on advisory services. While revenues have both increased and changed in composition during the post-SOX era, public opinion has maintained a status quo. The post-SOX era has also seen a weakening in the Code of Conduct, providing more liberties for CPAs to maximize self-interest. Meanwhile, the PCAOB faced constitutional challenges, while at the same time the AICPA experienced strong divisions in its membership. To provide some sense to these directionless efforts, this study, similar to the prior two articles in this trilogy, concludes with a summary analysis based on the nine SOCRECELIST criteria, and the question whether public accountants have learned their history lesson.

Details

Research on Professional Responsibility and Ethics in Accounting
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78560-973-2

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Article
Publication date: 1 November 2004

Elizabeth Gammie, Erica Cargill and Bob Gammie

The ever‐increasing cost of seeing a graduate training contract through to its successful completion has made the selection decision, and indeed the choice of selection…

Abstract

The ever‐increasing cost of seeing a graduate training contract through to its successful completion has made the selection decision, and indeed the choice of selection techniques used, increasingly vital. This paper identifies the selection methods currently used by the Scottish accountancy profession to recruit graduate trainees, compares these against best practice and highlights a number of areas where improvements to current practice would be recommended. Analysis of the selection literature revealed the range of selection techniques on offer, and from a consideration of the validity and reliability of each technique, it was possible to identify best practice in graduate selection. Data was collected by sending a questionnaire to 79 firms of Scottish Chartered Accountants. The targeted firms constituted the entire population of Scottish firms seeking to recruit a graduate trainee to commence in Autumn 2002 (as detailed within the annual ICAS Directory of Training Vacancies). Using the results of the primary and secondary data, the skills currently being sought by firms of Chartered Accountants in their graduate trainees were identified. The methods used by firms to identify these skills were then examined with each method being examined in terms of its current use as well as its value and effectiveness in practice. It was found that there have been significant changes to the skill‐set sought by firms in the early 21st Century as compared with a decade ago, with less emphasis on numeracy and more interest in softer skills such as communication and problem‐solving. As regards the techniques currently employed by firms to identify these skills, it was found that there has been some progress made over the last decade. However, the majority of firms are still reluctant to let go of what is now considered to be the more traditional interview‐based approach to selection, favouring this above what might be considered the more innovative techniques on offer. Further, it was found that few firms have designed their selection process specifically to identify the skill‐set that they have delineated. Thus, a consequent lack of consistency throughout the selection decisions was evidenced.

Details

Journal of Applied Accounting Research, vol. 7 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0967-5426

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Article
Publication date: 1 January 1992

Jeffrey Kantor and Linda Human

The objective of this study was to research, a decade after Independence, the attitudes of a number of key actors in the accountancy profession in Zimbabwe to the…

Abstract

The objective of this study was to research, a decade after Independence, the attitudes of a number of key actors in the accountancy profession in Zimbabwe to the integration and advancement of Blacks. A wide spectrum of views and opinions was sought, ranging from those of black students on the one hand to those of partners in accountancy firms on the other. The findings suggest that a great deal of work in the area of racial integration still needs to be done before it can be claimed that so‐called ‘black advancement’ in the accountancy profession has been successful. In particular, it would appear that many Whites still retain negative expectations of Blacks and that little is being done to actively understand and redress the major barriers to integration.

Details

Asian Review of Accounting, vol. 1 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1321-7348

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Article
Publication date: 30 October 2019

Florian Gebreiter

The purpose of this paper is to examine the role of graduate recruitment in the professional socialisation and subjectification of Big Four professionals.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine the role of graduate recruitment in the professional socialisation and subjectification of Big Four professionals.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper draws on documentary data and interviews conducted at one British university. It adopts an interpretive perspective and is informed by Foucault’s work on technologies of power and technologies of the self.

Findings

The paper argues that the graduate recruitment practices of Big Four firms represent a series of examinations which produce the category of ideal recruits. It moreover suggests that this category serves as the ultimate objective of an ethical process whereby aspiring accountants consciously and deliberately seek to transform themselves into the type of subjects they aspire to be – ideal recruits.

Research limitations/implications

The findings of the paper are primarily based on interviews conducted at one university. Future research could explore if students at other universities experience graduate recruitment in similar or different ways.

Originality/value

The paper highlights the constitutive role of graduate recruitment practices and shows that they can construct ideal recruits as much as they select them. It also shows that graduate recruitment is an important anticipatory socialisation mechanism that can compel aspiring accountants to learn how to look, sound and behave like Big Four professionals long before they join such organisations. Finally, the paper discusses its implications for the future of the profession, social mobility and the use of Foucault’s work on technologies of power and the self in studying subjectivity at elite professional service firms.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 33 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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Article
Publication date: 1 December 2000

Lars Fallan

In the present study a model based on trust relations and transaction cost analysis has been applied to explain the make‐or‐buy decision for accounting services. The…

Abstract

In the present study a model based on trust relations and transaction cost analysis has been applied to explain the make‐or‐buy decision for accounting services. The present model of efficient boundaries, which combines the focus on trust relations with the transactional focus on frequency and asset specificity, has predictive power of the governance of accounting services. The effects of asset specificity on the make‐or‐buy decision of accounting services were substantially overshadowed by the relational attribute of trust and the transactional attribute of frequency. The study reveals strong support for the hypothesized positive link between trust and the buy alternative and the negative association between frequency of accounting transactions and the buy alternative. The present model has predictive power for an overall correct classification of the make‐or‐buy decision for accounting services.

Details

Journal of Applied Accounting Research, vol. 6 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0967-5426

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Article
Publication date: 1 March 2002

I. Chaston, B. Badger, T. Mangles and E. Sadler‐Smith

The role of organisational learning in knowledge acquisition for competitive advantage is increasingly found in the literature. Various researchers have used qualitative…

Abstract

The role of organisational learning in knowledge acquisition for competitive advantage is increasingly found in the literature. Various researchers have used qualitative, single firm case studies to validate a relationship between learning, knowledge and firms exhibiting strong market performance. There is, however, limited empirical evidence on the relative importance of the learning style and management systems required to support the effective marketing of knowledge‐based services. The Internet is an excellent research tool to empirically assess the possible relationships between learning style, knowledge systems and revisions in operational practices. A survey of small UK accountancy practices was undertaken to acquire data on learning style, knowledge systems and market performance. The results and their implications in relation to organisations’ use of the Internet are discussed and proposals are presented for further research.

Details

Journal of Small Business and Enterprise Development, vol. 9 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1462-6004

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Article
Publication date: 19 October 2015

Carlos Ramirez, Lindsay Stringfellow and Mairi Maclean

The small accounting practice, despite being the most numerous part of the profession by number of firms, remains largely under-researched. Part of the reason the small…

Abstract

Purpose

The small accounting practice, despite being the most numerous part of the profession by number of firms, remains largely under-researched. Part of the reason the small practice category remains elusive is that researchers find it difficult to precisely define the object to study, and yet, this may be precisely the reason for studying it. Envisaging how this category is “represented” in institutionalized settings, constitutes a rich agenda for future research as it allows the small practitioner world to be connected to the issue of intra-professional segmentation. The paper aims to discuss these issues.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper proposes reinvigorating research around Bucher and Strauss’ (1961) conceptualization of professions as “segments in movement”. At the same time as advocating a better investigation of the small practitioner segment itself, it suggests to take the latter as an example to further explore the vision of professions as segments “more or less delicately held together”. To this end, there is a potential for cross-fertilization between Bucher and Strauss’ research programme and a range of other theoretical frameworks.

Findings

The discussion points towards how small practice, as a segment whose history and characteristics reflect the different struggles that have led to the creation of the professional accounting body and marked its subsequent evolution, is far from insignificant. Segmenting the profession in categories related to “size” offers an opportunity to deal with an under-investigated aspect of professions’ sociology and history, which encapsulates its inherent diversity and hierarchy. Whilst the professional body may replicate the hierarchy that structures broader society, the meaning of small itself, within a hierarchy of organizations, is also a relative concept. It is politically charged, and must be delicately managed in order to maintain harmony within the polarized professional space.

Originality/value

The small practitioner has been much overlooked in the accounting literature, and the literature on the professions has overemphasized aspects of its cohesiveness. The authors contribute a revitalized agenda for researchers to explore the dynamics of heterogeneity and unity in the professional body, by focusing a lens on the small practice and extending the “segments in movements” premise beyond the functional division of professions.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 28 no. 8
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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