Handbook of Service Business
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Handbook of Service Business

Management, Marketing, Innovation and Internationalisation

Edited by John R. Bryson and Peter W. Daniels

Service business accounts for more than 75 per cent of the wealth and employment created in most developed market economies. The management and economics of service business is based around selling expertise, knowledge and experiences. This Handbook contributes to on-going debates about the nature of service business and the characteristics of service-led economies by exploring disciplinary perspectives on services, services and core business processes and the management of service business. A series of case studies are also provided. The volume pushes back the frontiers of current critical thinking about the role of service business by bringing together eminent scholars from economics, management, sociology, public policy, planning and geography.
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Chapter 5: The role of the Big 4: commoditisation and accountancy

Steve Hollis


The Big 4 accounting firms as we know them now comprise four mega global professional services firms: PwC, Deloitte, Ernst & Young and KPMG. The combined annual fee income for these firms is over $100 billion and together they employ approaching 700,000 talented professionals. These four firms impact directly or indirectly on every business, government and organisation in just about every corner of the planet. Every year the Big 4 train over 100,000 new professionals, and the majority leave following the formal part of their training to develop their careers in industry and commerce. This global training programme has developed probably the largest body of alumni on the planet, with an increasing number of the ‘old boys and girls’ occupying senior positions in just about every large company in the world. From the outside, an impartial observer could be forgiven for concluding that this is a great example of world domination! The reality is that the competition among the Big 4 and with other service providers is intense. The Big 4 operate in a market that has become increasingly sophisticated in the procurement of professional services. Despite this competition (or perhaps because of it?), the Big 4 are a role model for how professional services firms can survive, and indeed prosper, in good times and bad.

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