From Local to Global: Auckland Accounting Partnerships
CITY OF ENTERPRISE: PERSPECTIVE ON AUCKLAND BUSINESS HISTORY, Ian Hunter, Diana Morrow, Auckland University Press, pp. 220-231
12 Pages Posted: 10 Nov 2009
Date Written: 2006
The expansion of manufacturing, and retail activities in Auckland, New Zealand, was accompanied by the development and growth of accounting partnerships in a manner distinctive from legal, medical or other professional service firms. Accounting partnerships mimicked characteristics of their clients more closely than did other professional service firms, growing from local offices to nationwide groupings, and then adopting international affiliations.
In particular, the past forty years in the history of accounting partnerships in Auckland have shown a loss of local identifiers, the adoption of international firm names, and partners having to fight to survive in partnerships with dwindling partner numbers and rationalisation of branches. During this period, partnerships have also shifted from organisations based on principles of collectivism and collegiality to firms that have all the characteristics of corporations, usually described as managed professional bureaucracies.
The more recent study by Brock, Powell and Hinings further divides partnerships into three co-existing archetypes: the traditional professional partnership, the global corporate professional network (typified by the Big 8), and the intermediate form, the ‘Star’ form, with stable size and specialisation in particular types of accounting services. In this chapter, the focus is on accounting firms in Auckland which moved from the traditional professional partnership to a global corporate professional network.
To illustrate this transformation, two particular case studies are provided. The first is the merger between the Auckland firms of Clark Menzies with McCulloch Butler and Spence; the second, when the Auckland partners in the firm of Lawrence Anderson Buddle joined Deloittes. These two cases illustrate the fierce competition between accounting partnerships to gain dominance and reputation in the Auckland business sphere while at the same time strengthening international affiliations with naming rights. However, an outcome from the adoption of international names was that firms in New Zealand were then subject to mergers dictated by their transatlantic offices. These mergers were a major cost to New Zealand partners, both in business clients and in the personal costs of partnership redundancies.
Keywords: Auckland, accounting firms, business history
JEL Classification: M40
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation