Bad barrels and bad cellars : a ‘boundaries’ perspective on professional misconduct

Muzio, Daniel and Faulconbridge, James Robert and Gabbioneta, Claudia and Greenwood, Royston (2016) Bad barrels and bad cellars : a ‘boundaries’ perspective on professional misconduct. In: Organizational wrongdoing : key perspectives and new directions. Cambridge Companions to Management . Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 141-175. ISBN 9781107117716

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Professions have traditionally been associated with a public safeguard role, with their superior ethical standards usually invoked to justify their occupational privileges and special labour market position. As such professionals have been thought to act as 'social trustees' (Brint, 1994) of key skills for the benefit of society as a whole or as 'gatekeepers' (Coffee, 2006) who play a fundamental role in maintaining the integrity of broader institutions. Yet recent scandals from Enron, to Parmalat and the recent financial crisis call into question the fiduciary role played by the professions. Thus, rather than as gatekeepers and social trustees, professions may have acted, perhaps unwittingly, as accomplices if not masterminds in recent episodes of corporate wrongdoing and malpractice. This chapter focuses on the role of professions in processes of malpractice and approaches this through the consideration of a number of key boundaries which frame professional practice and the tensions, conflicts and opportunities or temptations these generate. These include: 1) internal divisions within professional services firms between different services and the conflict of interests these may produce (thus the tensions between auditing and consulting within large accountancy firms), 2) the relationship between professional advisers and external stakeholders such as clients and increasingly financial investors, and the capture dynamics which may be at play here, 3) the boundaries which exist between different firms and professions engaged in gatekeeping functions and the systemic myopia that this allows and 4) the existence national and regional boundaries between jurisdictions with different standards of professional practice and regulatory oversight.

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This material has been published in Organizational Wrongdoing edited by Donald Palmer ... [et al.] This version is free to view and download for personal use only. Not for re-distribution, re-sale or use in derivative works. © Cambridge University Press
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12 Aug 2016 11:56
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14 Jun 2024 00:02