The Service Ethic Critique

Topics: Research, Big Four auditors, Accountant Pages: 15 (4910 words) Published: December 6, 2012
Critical Perspectives in Accounting
Group 3 critique of an academic paper Assignment

Module Code: AC550
Table of Contents:
* Research Objectives4
* Literature / Theory4
* Method Explained and Presented4
* Findings5
* Claimed Contribution5

* The relevance of the literature review to the research objectives7 * Research Method7
* Findings8
* Are the findings trustworthy and credible?9
* The use of ‘theory’ in the paper 9
* Does the paper make a distinct contribution to knowledge?10 * Arguments of the paper10
* Conclusions in relation to findings11
* Suggested improvements for the paper.12
* Suggestions for a future empirical research project13



Research Objectives
This paper sets out to look at the importance placed on the client within two “Big 5” professional service firms. It looks at how important the client is, particularly to trainee accountants in how they shape their professional identity and behaviour within the company. Finally, it considers how the importance placed on the client has both “controlling and restrictive impacts” (p1153) on trainee accountants, (Eg., what is expected of them in terms of working to deadlines, how it affects their family life etc.)

Literature/Theory on which it is based Summarised
The article is based on Hanlon’s work (1994, 1996 & 1998) and that of Dezalay (1995), who carried out research on how recently, large accounting firms were changing from having a “public service ethic” (p1152) to becoming more commercialised, they now provide a wider range of commercial services and their principle aim to be as profitable as possible. However, the article follows the theory that a “very strong service ethic is present” (p1152)-and sets out to determine how the importance placed on the client within these firms influences this service ethic- that the trainees are providing a service to the client and hence the importance then placed on the client. It also focuses on two earlier Anderson-Gough et al. studies (1998), which dealt with the issue of “professional socialization and identity” (how people fit in with what is expected of them as professionals and how they develop their own professional identity-how company culture will affect their behaviour etc.) The socialization of accountants, in particular, which is investigated in this article was studied by numerous researchers including Dirsmith & Covaleski (1985), Harper (1988), Power (1991), Grey (1994 & 1998) and Dirsmith et al., (1997), who reviewed what trainees understand by socialization and how it will help to shape their professional conduct.

Method Explained and Presented
A year-long study was carried out, aiming “to understand the process of socialization whereby trainees come to assume a professional identity and its relationship to organisational practices”. (p1153) It looked at trainees within two “Big 5” professional service firms, and one regional office of each firm was used as the research site. The research method used was interviews with trainees in different departments and at different stages of their training contracts. Approximately seventy-seven trainees were interviewed (50% of trainees in each firm), (p1153) allowing the authors to get a comprehensive overview of all trainees’ opinions. Further research was carried out by speaking to members of other departments and “hanging around and listening in” (Strauss, 1987) on days when interviews were taking place. Recruitment and appraisal literature was provided, which the authors used to further understand the importance placed on the client within the companies. The interviews consisted of “trainees constructing accounts (to us) of their experiences in the firm and how these related to their developing professional identity”...
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