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 10: Challenges facing the accounting profession: maintaining relevance in a changing environment

Ruth King and Lin Fitzgerald

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


From the earliest recordings of commercial transactions on stone tablets to the sophisticated enterprise resource systems we see today, the accounting profession has responded to changes in its environment to ensure its continuing relevance, resilience and its attractiveness as a career. The 420000 professionally qualified accountants plus the 530000 students worldwide registered with UK professional accounting institutes suggests that the accounting profession has a future, but what will that future look like? The challenges facing the profession today arise from the four key emerging trends of globalization, corporate restructuring, sustainability and digitalization. All of these changes are occurring at a time when there is a general lack of trust in businesses and ever increasing pressures on businesses to perform in the short term. The UK professional accountancy bodies have recognized these challenges and have responded by developing strategic alliances, adopting differentiation strategies and adapting to market demands. In the following two sections, we elaborate on the key challenges identified in the business environment and the impact they are having on the work of the accounting profession. We then focus particularly on the effect that ‘accounting scandals’ have had in respect of trust in the profession, the regulatory framework and independent audit. Next, we discuss the professional qualification, and some key responses from professional accountancy bodies to the current challenges, before concluding as to the profession’s ability to maintain relevance in its changing environment.

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