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Book part
Publication date: 16 September 2013

James C. Lampe and Andy Garcia

The time period from the mid-1980s through 2002 is described in this series of research as a “pre-SOX” era of rapid deprofessionalization in U.S. pubic accountancy

Abstract

The time period from the mid-1980s through 2002 is described in this series of research as a “pre-SOX” era of rapid deprofessionalization in U.S. pubic accountancy resulting in the loss of professional status. This was a period, however, when all professions were suffering some deprofessionalization. During the pre-SOX period it appears that leadership in public accountancy responded to a nearly perfect storm of changes confronting the profession with a corporate mentality of management by objectives, commercialization, and profit maximization resulting in constant and substantial net deprofessionalization greater than that of other professions. Starting in the late-1970s and continuing through 2001, some critics of public accountancy have asserted that leaders in the profession either lost or forgot what was required for public accountancy to be recognized as a profession. The conclusion stated in this paper is that public accountancy has lost its professional status in or before 2002. The reasons and events leading to this conclusion are presented and discussed. In the United States it appears as though once professional status is lost, regaining the elite status is more difficult. The question is if public accountancy can learn from history going into the substantial changes to be confronted in the post-SOX era of public accountancy and regain or at least make progress toward regaining professional status.

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Research on Professional Responsibility and Ethics in Accounting
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78190-845-7

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Article
Publication date: 1 March 1998

Stephen P. Walker and Ken Shackleton

Explores the genesis of a plan to erect a statutory “ring fence” around the accountancy profession in Britain during the 1960s. Focuses on two elemental problems in…

Abstract

Explores the genesis of a plan to erect a statutory “ring fence” around the accountancy profession in Britain during the 1960s. Focuses on two elemental problems in actualising a closure strategy: defining a basis for inclusion and exclusion; and, gaining the sanction of the state. Reveals that the complexities of devising an exclusionary code permitted opportunities for “inclusionary usurpation” by “outside” practitioner groups. Examines the quest by accountants to elicit government support for monopolisation during a period in which restrictive practices were outlawed and the professions were “under fire”. The achievement of de jure closure is shown to be dependent on the predilections of senior bureaucrats and the capacity of the profession to negotiate an “informal contract” with the state. Contends that the profession‐state interface primarily engages the apex of the organisational élite and mandrinate Civil Servants.

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Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 11 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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Article
Publication date: 1 December 1999

Timothy J. Fogarty and Vaughan S. Radcliffe

This paper examines the historical means by which accountancy, as a mature profession, has sought to expand its practice to new areas of business. Accountancy has long…

Abstract

This paper examines the historical means by which accountancy, as a mature profession, has sought to expand its practice to new areas of business. Accountancy has long been eager to satisfy perceived client needs, and in so doing foster an ever widening scope for accounting expertise. However, as the profession faces the end of a boom in audit services, the question of how its markets can be self‐consciously expanded has re‐emerged. To understand the dynamics of professional expansion we examine the way in which accountants attempted to develop their practice in the US industrial relations arena shortly after the Second World War, amid the charged industrial relations climate of the time. By examining professional discourse, as evidenced in practitioner journals, we explore accountants’ constructions of potential roles for themselves in this new field. The means by which the profession has redefined itself previously may be instructive as an element in the development of fresh markets for its services.

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Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 12 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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Book part
Publication date: 20 May 2011

Andy Garcia and James C. Lampe

This chapter develops a model of professionalism via a synthesis of three extant theories from the sociology of the professions literature. Nine components or conditions…

Abstract

This chapter develops a model of professionalism via a synthesis of three extant theories from the sociology of the professions literature. Nine components or conditions of the model are used to trace the historical development of public accountancy through an Early Era from 1850 to 1929 and a Modern Era from 1930 to the mid-1980s. The conclusion is that concerted efforts over an approximate 130 year period were needed for accountancy to achieve elite professional status in the eyes of the U.S. public. The question remaining is if accountants have forgotten the history lessons on what has been required to achieve and sustain elite professional status?

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Article
Publication date: 1 January 2012

Rihab Khalifa

The purpose of this paper is to contribute to the development of a policy model for the accounting and auditing profession that fits the current fragmented regulatory…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to contribute to the development of a policy model for the accounting and auditing profession that fits the current fragmented regulatory context of the UAE and GCC, and could help accountancy to become a cornerstone of an improved corporate governance regime. This paper aims to focus on the features of accountancy within the UAE and GCC, and develop some suggestions for a regional model.

Design/methodology/approach

This is a qualitative paper. Data for this paper were collected via in‐depth interviews with partners in Big Four audit firms in the UAE, accounting academics, and accounting students at the UAEU. Valuable primary sources of data were also web sites and publications from official organizations. A short survey was also administered to students.

Findings

In summary, accountancy's regulatory context in the UAE has remained fragmented. The state has taken the lead role, regulating in some detail the affairs of audit firms. The fragmented regulatory context of accounting and auditing in the UAE has allowed the Big Four to import their global quality assurance systems into the UAE, hiring mainly auditors with foreign examined qualifications. This may present advantages for the policy objective “internationalisation of the UAE economy”. It may, however, be regarded as suboptimal for the policy objectives “localisation of the accountancy profession to support the growth and development of local (family) businesses” and “Emiratisation of the accountancy profession”.

Research limitations/implications

It is suggested that the possible shape of a stronger UAE‐based accountancy profession be investigated in more detail and its suggested positive effects for specific, relevant UAE policies be put to the test. More interviews with other relevant institutions and local accountants would have enriched understanding of the profession.

Practical implications

Understanding the financial regulatory context of UAE is crucial for the understanding and further development of the profession. The Big Four firms have a key role to play in orchestrating efforts towards further professional development.

Social implications

Small and medium‐sized practitioners need to be supported by a clearer regulatory context, which allows them to exist alongside the Big Four.

Originality/value

The paper presents empirical and qualitative evidence about the regulatory context of the UAE.

Details

Journal of Economic and Administrative Sciences, vol. 28 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1026-4116

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Article
Publication date: 16 November 2012

Rosalind H. Whiting

The purpose of this paper is to explore the changes in gender‐biased employment practices that it is perceived have occurred in New Zealand accountancy workplaces over the…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore the changes in gender‐biased employment practices that it is perceived have occurred in New Zealand accountancy workplaces over the last 30 years, using Oliver's model of deinstitutionalization.

Design/methodology/approach

Sequential interviewing was carried out with 69 experienced chartered accountants and three human resource managers, and at a later date with nine young female accountants.

Findings

Evidence is presented of perceived political, functional and social pressures cumulatively contributing to deinstitutionalization of overt gender‐biased employment practices, with social and legislative changes being the most influential. Deinstitutionalization appears incomplete as some more subtle gender‐biased practices still remain in New Zealand's accountancy workplaces, relating particularly to senior‐level positions.

Research limitations/implications

This study adds to understanding of how professions evolve. The purposeful bias in the sample selection, the small size of two of the interviewee groups, and the diversity in the interviewees' workplaces are recognized limitations.

Practical implications

Identification of further cultural change is required to deinstitutionalize the more subtle gender‐biased practices in accountancy organizations. This could help to avoid a serious deficiency of senior chartered accountants in practice in the future.

Originality/value

This paper represents one of a limited number of empirical applications of the deinstitutionalization model to organizational change and is the first to address the issue of gender‐biased practices in a profession. The use of sequential interviewing of different age groups, in order to identify and corroborate perceptions of organizational change is a novel approach.

Details

Qualitative Research in Accounting & Management, vol. 9 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1176-6093

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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.

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

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Article
Publication date: 21 October 2013

Rihab Khalifa

Concomitant with the trend towards specialisation in UK accountancy and the rise of relatively separate formal spheres of professional work along formal specialisms such…

Abstract

Purpose

Concomitant with the trend towards specialisation in UK accountancy and the rise of relatively separate formal spheres of professional work along formal specialisms such as tax, audit and management consultancy, women entered the profession in unprecedented numbers, but not evenly distributed across those specialisms. This paper aims to draw on the sociology of accountancy and feminist studies of the professions to show that specialisms have emerged through and, in turn, have been shaped and recreated by gender as well as other processes.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper's research approach combines the sociology of professions with critical gender studies. It draws on interviews, brochures, web pages, and results from a questionnaire survey to investigate professional identities within UK accountancy.

Findings

Accountants' self-articulated notions of professionalism in the different specialisms are gendered and ordered hierarchically. Gender is an encompassing conceptual frame for ordering discursive attributes of the different specialisms. Working long and unpredictable hours was central to accountants' understandings of their professional life. Socialising with clients was seen as functional in bringing new opportunities to the firm. Socialising with peers also was deemed important, especially in solving internal frictions and in controlling new entrants' behaviour in firms. The more “public” the ideology of a specialism, the more masculine it was perceived to be.

Originality/value

This study challenges the uniform representations of professional identities offered by previous studies. It suggests that gender offers a discursive and ideological frame of reference for accountancy whose relevance extends beyond the working practices of men and women to the very constitution of the profession. It does so with reference to an original mix of qualitative and quantitative data.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 26 no. 8
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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Article
Publication date: 1 February 1980

Anne L. Bancroft

“A man becomes a professional, a cynic once observed, by doubling his prices, calling them fees and referring to his customers as clients. He might have added that the…

Abstract

“A man becomes a professional, a cynic once observed, by doubling his prices, calling them fees and referring to his customers as clients. He might have added that the real professional gent doesn't advertise his services either” (OPINION from Accountancy Age, 13 August 1976.)

Details

Managerial Finance, vol. 5 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0307-4358

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Article
Publication date: 20 September 2011

Thomas A. Lee

The purpose of this paper is to study the incidence, impact, and consequences of accountant and lawyer bankruptcies in Victorian Scotland. The paper examines these…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to study the incidence, impact, and consequences of accountant and lawyer bankruptcies in Victorian Scotland. The paper examines these bankruptcies in the context of an emerging profession separating from an established legal profession as part of the rise of professionalism in the Victorian Age.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper reports data describing 135 accountant and 361 lawyer bankruptcies declared between 1855 and 1904. It uses theories of the rise of professionalism, signals of movement to occupational ascendancy, and social attitudes to money to provide explanations of the incidence, impact, and consequences of these bankruptcies. The paper also examines bankruptcy and the early disciplinary codes of professional accountancy associations.

Findings

Despite a trend of general decline in total, accountant, and lawyer bankruptcies in Scotland through the Victorian Age, there is no consistency over time between accountant and lawyer bankruptcies and economic conditions. Bankrupt accountants were typically unregulated as professionals in contrast with bankrupt lawyers who were usually regulated. Accountant and lawyer bankruptcies predominantly involved experienced practitioners, location in major cities, and administration by professional accountants. Bankruptcy was associated with criminal activity in a minority of cases in each profession. There was inconsistency in the post‐bankruptcy disciplining of bankrupt accountants and lawyers, and post‐bankruptcy loss of economic status in both professions.

Practical implications

The paper contributes to the Victorian history of institutionalised professions such as accounting and law. It demonstrates the presence of marginal practitioners in emerging and established professions, the need to study professionalisation in social context, and the impact of bankruptcy on discipline in an emerging profession.

Originality/value

The paper represents the first contextualised study of bankruptcy among professionals generally and accountants and lawyers, particularly in the Victorian Age.

Details

Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, vol. 24 no. 7
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0951-3574

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