Table of Contents

Perspectives on Contemporary Professional Work

Perspectives on Contemporary Professional Work

Challenges and Experiences

New Horizons in Management series

Edited by Adrian Wilkinson, Donald Hislop and Christine Coupland

How is the world of professions and professional work changing? This book offers both an overview of current debates surrounding the nature of professional work, and the implications for change brought about by the managerialist agenda. The relationships professionals have with their organizations are variable, indeterminate and uncertain, and there is still debate over the ways in which these should be characterized and theorized. The contributors discuss these implications with topics including hybrid organizations and hybrid professionalism; the changing nature of professional and managerial work; profession and identity; and the emergence of HRM as a new managerial profession.

Chapter 6: The work of global professional service firms

Mehdi Boussebaa and James Faulconbridge

Subjects: business and management, human resource management, organisational behaviour


Global professional service firms (GPSFs) are arguably now one of the key sites for professional work (Faulconbridge and Muzio, 2008, 2012), given their size and power relative to the professions they represent, or some might say now dominate (Greenwood and Suddaby, 2006). They are particularly important because of their central role in choreographing the global economy and setting the rules of the game for capitalist activities (Quack, 2007). In this chapter, we consider their work, both in terms of their activities and internal organization as ‘global’ firms and in terms of their impacts on economies and ultimately societies worldwide. In doing this, we follow on from those who have highlighted the work GPSFs do for capitalism and elites (Morgan, 2006) and for the institutions of the economy (Boussebaa, 2015b; Muzio, Brock and Suddaby, 2013), by drawing attention to the intimate connections between the firms’ modes of organizing, their activities in markets throughout the world, and the structures of the global economy. In particular, we highlight five research agendas which, we believe, relate to a pressing series of questions about the effects of the work of GPSFs in the early years of the twenty-first century. The chapter proceeds as follows. We first explore the rise of GPSFs and their modi operandi, paying particular attention to the structures and practices they have put in place to expand and manage their operations across nations, and some of the key challenges they are confronted with.

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