Management Seminars: Mehdi Boussebaa (University of Glasgow)

28 November 2017, 4.00 PM - 28 November 2017, 5.30 PM

Mehdi Boussebaa (University of Glasgow)

G.15, 15-19 Tyndall's Park Road, BRISTOL BS8 1PQ

Title: Global Professional Service Firms as Agents of Globalization


In the last few decades, ‘global’ professional service firms (GPSFs) have emerged as major international businesses. Whilst a lively debate has developed in recent years over the intra-organizational implications of this phenomenon, the role of GPSFs in the organizing of the world economy has received scant attention.  In this paper, we contribute to redressing this imbalance through an inter-disciplinary survey of the literature at the intersection of the professions and transnational governance, and apply a political perspective to frame our analysis.  Our contribution is twofold.  First, we argue for a broadening of the research agenda of management studies to better elucidate the critical role of GPSFs as agents of globalization.  This role, we argue, should become a core theme in research given that GPSFs are no longer just businesses engaged in cross-border work and investment but are highly active participants in transnational governance.  In making this argument, we also reinforce calls to connect intra-organizational issues to societal ones in the study of professional service firms, especially in relation to ‘globalization’.  Second, we shed light on and conceptualise the specific power-political strategies deployed by GPSFs as part of their role as agents of globalization.  We develop a framework which, firstly, distinguishes between governance ‘design’ and ‘implementation’ and, secondly, specifies how GPSFs exert power in each of these related areas. This model provides a theoretical scaffolding for understanding how GPSFs become ‘lords of the dance’ (Scott, 2008) in the world economy.

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