An Examination of the Perceived Impact of Flexible Work Arrangements on Professional Opportunities in Public Accounting
12 Pages Posted: 7 Mar 2008 Last revised: 28 Sep 2009
Since 1990, the multinational public accounting firms have all adopted flexible work arrangement policies. In part, the firms are doing this to fulfill an ethical obligation in creating an appropriate professional environment for its employees. This study examines the effect of participation in a flexible work arrangement program on an individual's professional success and anticipated turnover as perceived by the participant's peers and superiors. Subjects from one Big Five accounting firm read a description of a manager and answered a series of questions about the likelihood of the manager's promotion to partner, voluntary and involuntary turnover, and desirability on a job. Gender and participation in a flexible work arrangement were manipulated in a 2X2 design. The results indicate that participation in a flexible work arrangement evoked significantly more pessimistic predictions on all of the dimensions. Gender did not have an effect on the likelihood ratings. Follow-up questions about the factors that enhance and hinder individuals' career success in each work scenario indicated that there are gender-based differences in perceptions of what it takes to be a successful professional in the financial services environment. Implications for professional and ethics practice and research are also presented.
Keywords: Flexible work arrangements, Gender issues in public accounting, ethics
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