Committed to Professionalism: Organizational responses of Mid-tier Accounting firms to conflicting institutional logics

M. LANDER, B. A. S. Koene, S. Linssen

Accounting Organizations and Society

February 2013, vol. 38, n°2, pp.130-148

Departments: Management & Human Resources, GREGHEC (CNRS)

We study how mid-tier accounting firms deal with changes in their institutional environment that resulted in a shift in emphasis from the trustee logic to the commercial logic. We find that these mid-tier firms selectively adopt practices related to the commercial logic, while retaining a principal commitment to the trustee logic. Interviews with high level informants in these firms show how specific strategic choice opportunities serve as independent critical events framing practice-adoption decisions. Main strategic issues for the mid-tier firms relate to the changing role of the accountant and changes in organizational structure and practices. As these issues fundamentally challenge characteristics of their professional identity, there is internal resistance against this transformation. Non-partnered accountants mainly challenge new roles that upset their extant work routines, whereas partners resist changes affecting their autonomy. These types of resistance directly impact the strategic organizational responses of the accounting firms to institutional pressures