Introduction to the Journal of Organizational Behavior's Special Issue on Professional Service Firms: Where Organization Theory and Organizational Behavior Might Meet
8 Pages Posted: 19 May 2013
Date Written: May 17, 2007
The uniqueness of professional service firms (PSFs) has been well established. Accounting, law, engineering, and management consulting firms are known to differ significantly from both traditional manufacturing and service organizations in their organizational and managerial arrangements. Their performance depends heavily on the reputation and status of their workforce. They utilize unique employment practices and leadership behaviors, and typically have unusual structures. They are subject to exhortations from external professional bodies and are expected to balance pressures of commercial success with professional integrity (Scott, 1987; Greenwood et al., 2007). Many professional service firms are governed as partnerships, which, though not unique to these organizations, is highly unusual elsewhere and carries unusually high risks of litigation (Greenwood & Empson, 2003). These distinctive and differentiating features occur because of unique challenges that arise from the PSFs central focus upon intellectual capital and expert knowledge and the delivery of intangible, customized services through highly trained professionals (Alvesson, 1995; Reed, 1996b).
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