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The organizational context of professionalism in accounting

By Roy Suddaby, Yves Gendron and Helen Lam

Abstract

This study analyses the degree to which change in the organizational context, content and location (both of the individual within the organization and the organization within the field) of professional work has contributed to variation in attitudes toward professional ideology and institutions. Through an online survey of Canadian chartered accountants we observe that, contrary to current accusations, a majority of accounting professionals remain committed to their profession, despite profound changes in the context, content and location of their work. We do find, however, that the strongest espoused deviation from core professional values and logics has occurred in traditional work contexts (i.e. public accounting firms), and for the distinctive value of commitment to independence enforcement, the deviation is most pronounced in the elite core of the profession - the Big Four professional service firms. Accountants in higher ranks also tend to identify more with commercialistic values. We speculate on the implications these findings hold for the professional project of accountancy.

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