Researching the Post-Pandemic Professional Service Firm: Challenging our Assumptions
The pandemic-inspired shift to remote and hybrid working has accelerated changes already underway within the professional service firm (PSF) sector. Taken together, these changes will potentially undermine some foundational assumptions about PSFs. In this article for Journal of Management Studies, Laura Empson outlines a post-pandemic research agenda.
Joelle Evans publishes two important new articles
In two recent articles in Administrative Science Quarterly and Organisation Science Joelle explores how scientists navigate their professional space to construct their moral authority and co-opt regulation. In the first “How Professionals Construct Moral Authority: Expanding Boundaries of Expert Authority in Stem Cell Science” she examines how professionals manage moral challenges by reconfiguring their conventional domain of expert authority to include moral as well as technical expertise.
In the second “Co-opting regulation: Professional control through discretionary mobilisation of legal prescriptions and expert knowledge” she finds that professional scientists selectively implement and blend formal regulations with expert practice to respond to risks the law acknowledges (to workers’ bodies and the environment) as well as to risks the law does not acknowledge but professionals recognise as critical (to work tasks and collegiality).
Prestigious award for research on management consulting
Dr Szilvia Mosonyi, together with Professor Laura Empson and Professor Jean-Pascal Gond, received a prestigious Centre for Management Consulting Excellence CMCE award for their paper based on Szilvia’s PhD. It reviews 30 years of research into management consulting, providing an integrative framework and insight into the client-consultant relationship.
Liminality, culture and post-pandemic professional work
In a recent article for Harvard Business Review Laura Empson and Jennifer Howard- Grenville examine the impact of the pandemic on professional workers and professional service firms and ask “How has the past year changed you and your organisation?”
New research on legal careers
“It’s not all it’s cracked up to be”: Narratives of promotions in elite professional careers. – In their new article published in Human Relations, Stefanie Gustaffson and Juani Swart examine how organisational decision-makers and promotion candidates experience promotions in elite professional careers. They develop an emotion-based understanding of promotions suggesting that promotions are constructed through people’s lived emotional experiences that inform their meaning making of the new role.
How investment analysts struggle to be heard
Earning the 'write to speak': sell-side analysts and their struggle to be heard - In their recent article Crawford Spence and colleagues explore the ways in which sell-side financial analysts seek to position themselves advantageously within the wider field of investment advice in spite of widespread skepticism over the value that their forecasts and recommendations add to investment decisions.
Faced with existential threats, sell-side analysts have responded to the disruptive impact of technology and regulation by struggling hard to ensure that their services are still valued by fund managers. They show that economic considerations in the area of investment advice are influenced by social ties, the motivations of various actors in the field and their relative position vis-à-vis other actors.
Event: Leading Professionals: Power, Politics, and Prima Donnas launch
Senior professionals, academics, students, and members of the Centre for Professional Service Firms gathered in Bayes Business School (formerly Cass) to celebrate the launch of Professor Laura Empson’s new book, Leading Professionals: Power, Politics, and Prima Donnas.
Professor Empson introduced the major themes of the book, which is the result of more than 20 years of research into professional firms and their leaders. Her speech was followed by a panel discussion chaired by Stefan Stern, Visiting Professor of Practice at Bayes Business School, and featuring Margaret Cole, Chief Risk Officer and General Counsel, Board Member, PwC; Sir Gerry Grimstone, Chairman, Standard Life Aberdeen; and David Morley, previously Global Senior Partner, Allen & Overy.
Watch the video Launch of Leading Professionals: Power, Politics, and Prima Donnas
Harvard relationship: New edition of The Practice: “Strategy in the law” now available
In a recent edition of The Practice, published by Harvard Law School’s Center on the Legal Profession, Professors David Wilkins and Laura Empson discuss the evolution of what it means to compete in the legal marketplace.
Click link to read the article Steering Law Firm Strategy
New working paper on “Elite interviewing in professional organisations”
In this paper Laura Empson reflects on her own experiences of elite interviewing and brings together insights of both interviewees and interviewers, to enable researchers to reflect upon and improve their professional practice when conducting elite interviews. Read the paper.
Prof Roy Suddaby, Prof Crawford Spence, and Dr John Mawdsley present research
Professor Roy Suddaby of the University of Victoria, Canada, presented on Craft, magic and the re-enchantment with the world.
Professor Crawford Spence of Warwick Business School presented on Global professional service firms in China and Japan.
Dr John Mawdsley of HEC Paris presented on Always change a winning team? Resource re-configuring in human asset intensive firms.
Outstanding reviews for Oxford Handbook of Professional Service Firms: Now published in paperback
The Oxford Handbook of Professional Service Firms, edited by Laura Empson, Daniel Muzio, Joseph Broschak, and Bob Hinings, has received outstanding reviews from globally renowned scholars. In view of the book’s success it is now also being published in paperback. Read the reviews
Allen & Overy case study published, with Harvard Law School
CPSF is excited to announce that Harvard Law School has published a new case study based on research conducted by Laura Empson. The case describes how global law firm Allen & Overy responded successfully to the global banking crisis of 2009.
Read the Allen & Overy case study
Dr Stefanie Gustafsson joins the CPSF
Stefanie Gustafsson joins the CPSF as a Visiting Fellow. She is the Prize Fellow in Human Resource Management at the University of Bath, and has just been awarded the prestigious ESRC Future Research Leaders Fellowship. Stefanie’s work centres around professional work and careers, organisational trust, and qualitative research methods.
Three new working papers published
“Managing paradoxes at the research-practice interface: A boundary management framework”. Jean-Pascal Gond, Laure Cabantous, Laura Empson and Cliff Oswick
“My liminal life: Perpetual journeys across the research-practice divide”. Laura Empson
“When the past comes back to haunt you: the enduring influence of upbringing on the work-family balance decisions of professional parents”. Ioana Lupu, Crawford Spence and Laura Empson.
Read the papers
Leadership, Professionals, and Power: See Report
The theme of the 2016 Summer Leadership Symposium was: "Leadership, Professionals, and Power”. Organised by the Bayes Centre for Professional Service Firms and held in association with Allen & Overy, it turned out to be “one amazing day”.
We were joined by over 100 leading scholars, senior professionals, regulators, and clients from around the world to discuss the challenges, implications, and prospects for leadership and power in the changing context of professional work. Our debates were organised and around four related themes: (i) Leading autonomous followers; (ii) The dark side of leadership; (iii) Regulators, professionals and power; and (iv) Expert leadership and leading experts.
Read the report 'Leadership, Professionals, and Power'
Building Successful Relationships in Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability
Jointly hosted by the Bayes Centre for Professional Service Firms and ETHOS: The Centre for Responsible Enterprise at Bayes Business School, this event brought together leading experts, professionals and academics to discuss the results of an in-depth study by Szilvia Mosonyi. The report, ‘United we stand, divided we fall: Building successful relationships in Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability’ Identifies three major themes: (i) Distinctiveness; (ii) Honesty; and (iii) Insecurity.
The presentation was followed by a panel discussion featuring Sir Ian Cheshire, sustainability leader and Chairman of Debenhams, and Jean-Pascal Gond and Professor of Corporate Social Responsibility and led by renowned journalist and Bayes Visiting Professor, Stefan Stern.
David Morley joins the CPSF
David Morley joins Bayes as a Visiting Professor of Practice. He is widely recognised as one of the most influential global leaders in the legal profession. He was previously Senior Partner, Managing Partner and Head of Banking at Allen & Overy.
MBA elective: “Succeeding in professional and financial services”
The highly successful MBA elective, “Managing professional service firms”, taught by Professor Laura Empson for the past 9 years, has been updated, revised, and relaunched. For more details of the new elective visit Succeeding in professional and financial services to hear Laura speak about it, and for MBA student’s reviews.
Managing a professional services firm's reputation: Benefits and difficulties
In a recent article for Professional Marketing magazine, Bayes Professor of Consumer Marketing Vincent-Wayne Mitchell et al discussed the benefits reputation brings to Professional Services Firms (PSF).
Why City firms struggle to challenge elitism
Previous studies have shown that elite professional services firms are still failing to employ bright working-class applicants in significant numbers. This new research paper looks at the reasons behind this and their implications for social inclusion.
Read the report ' Why City firms struggle to challenge elitism'
Gender gap among elite professionals: Exploring the fault lines
Dr Kate Blackmon of Oxford University presented her research on the origins of the gender performance gap, based on her analysis of the educational and career patterns of male and female Rhodes Scholars.
Read the report 'Exploring the fault lines'
Just published: “Understanding social exclusion in elite professional service firms”
Louise Ashley and Laura Empson’s article Understanding social exclusion in elite professional service firms explores how elite professional service firms privilege candidates with the same narrow forms of cultural capital, in spite of the fact that it contradicts the firms’ professed commitment to social inclusion and recruiting the best ‘talent’. They argue that it represents an organisational strategy generated by a compulsion to achieve legitimacy in a specific field of London-based elite PSFs.
Professor Roy Suddaby speaks on “The professionalisation of the corporate historian”
Roy Suddaby (University of Victoria) visited Bayes recently to present his study The professionalisation of the corporate historian which examines the intimate but unarticulated relationship between professions and institutions. His paper elaborates the argument that, as a dominant institution, the corporation has replaced the nation-state as the primary engine for generating new professions.
Best article prize awarded for “Illusio and overwork: Playing the game in the accounting field”
Ioana Lupu and Laura Empson’s article Illusio and overwork: Playing the game in the accounting field has been awarded the prize for the best paper published in 2015 in the Accounting, Auditing, and Accountability Journal. The article examines: how and why do experienced professionals, who perceive themselves as autonomous, comply with organisational pressures to overwork?
Assistant Professor Isaac Waisberg speaks on “The engineering of novelty in a large management consulting firm”
Isaac Waisberg (Tel Aviv University) visited Bayes recently to present his study The engineering of novelty in a large management consulting firm, on the mechanisms that enable a consulting firm to successfully balance the exploration and exploitation of professional knowledge.
Laura Empson appointed Chair of Public Interest Committee, KPMG LLP
The KMPG Public Interest Committee is responsible for overseeing the public interest aspects of decision making for KPMG LLP, covering issues such as audit quality, reputational risks, and firm governance. Laura takes over from Sir Steve Robson as Chair and will continue to work with her other Independent Non Executive colleagues Philip Augar and David Pitt-Watson.
Read more about KPMG's governance
PhD Studentships: Applications invited
Bayes Business School is offering 16 PhD studentships comprising tuition fees and maintenance grant of £16,057 pa for four years, starting in October 2016. Studentships also offer funding for conference attendance, also for four years. We are now seeking applications from exceptional graduates with outstanding academic achievement and research potential.
To be considered for one of the scholarships, please submit a full online application to the Bayes Business School PhD Programme by 29 February 2016. Find out how to apply.
Tony Angel and Edwin Lee join the CPSF
Tony joins Bayes as a Visiting Professor of Practice. He was previously Global Co-Chairman and Senior Partner of DLA Piper. Prior to that he was Executive Managing Director EMEA of Standard & Poor's, and Global Managing Partner of Linklaters.
Edwin joins Bayes as a PhD student. He was previously a Researcher at the University of Cambridge, Judge Business School. He has an MPhil and BA in Musicology from the University of Cambridge.
“Do clients always come first in professional partnerships?” New research
Professor Hans van Oosterhout (Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University) visited Bayes recently to present his study entitled “Do clients always come first in professional partnerships? A multi-level study of complaints against lawyers in Dutch law firms.”
"Illusio and overwork: Playing the game in the accounting field" New working paper published
Ioana Lupu and Laura Empson’s paper Illusio and overwork: Playing the game in the accounting field seeks to understand: how and why do experienced professionals, who perceive themselves as autonomous, comply with organisational pressures to overwork? Drawing on the little used Bourdieusian concept of illusio, which describes the phenomenon whereby individuals are “taken in and by the game” (Bourdieu and Wacquant, 1992), the paper helps to explain the “autonomy paradox” in professional service firms.
Marie Curie Fellowships: Applications invited
The Bayes Centre for Professional Service Firms (CPSF) invites prospective applicants for the European Commission’s Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowships. The Fellowships last for between 12 and 24 months. Applicants must not have spent more than 12 months in the UK in the past three years.
Potential applicants are invited to initially submit a CV and brief research proposal for consideration by the CPSF. Please send these expressions of interest to [email protected]. The deadline for applications is 10th September 2015 and, as the proposal is a lengthy document, expressions of interest should be received by the end of June.
Candidates selected to make a Fellowship application will receive support for their proposal development from the CPSF and the City Research Office.
Bayes Business School and the Centre for Professional Service Firms have an outstanding record of success with these Fellowships.
Mike Cullen joins the CPSF
Mike, a management consultant by background, served as Global Managing Partner for both Markets and Talent for EY. For 20 years Mike has been responsible for the development of professional services marketplace and people strategies covering audit, tax, law, consulting and corporate finance. His experience in strategy development spans the UK, EMEIA and the Globalisation of professional service firms.
PhD Scholarships available
Applications are sought from exceptional graduates and will be given to students on the basis of outstanding academic achievement and research potential. Closing date 31st March.
Researching Professional Service Firms: Introduction and Overview
August this year sees the launch of The Oxford Handbook for Professional Service Firms, edited by Professors Laura Empson, Daniel Muzio, Joe Broschak and Bob Hinings. The Introduction and Overview examines the significance of PSFs in terms of their scale and influence from an economic and societal perspective, and the insights they offer for academic theory. It discusses 'what exactly is a professional service firm' and highlights four defining characteristics which frame the definition. It proposes various key themes for future research and develops an integrative framework for the analysis of PSFs.
Power, Personalities and Principles - Improving political leadership
Professor Jo Silvester invited 80 scholars and practitioners to Bayes to attend a workshop on Improving political leadership through cross-disciplinary research. The aim of the workshop was to create a space where academics and practitioners from political science, psychology, business and politics might come together to discuss, challenge and surprise one another with their different perspectives and ideas, and ultimately develop a broader understanding of the challenges of political work.
Ioana Lupu, Daisy Chung and Szilvia Mosonyi join the CPSF
Ioana is currently working on a European Commission funded project "Professionals and Parenthood in the Twenty-first Century. Professional Identity Construction and Parenthood in Professional Service Firms".
Daisy uses ethnographic methods to study coordination processes in product engineering and new industry development, with a particular interest in the contestation and politics inherent in cross-functional and inter-firm collaboration.
Szilvia is exploring the dynamics of knowledge and power in client-consultant relationships within the corporate responsibility field.
Leadership and change in the public eye - Tony Hall, Director General of the BBC, speaks at the CPSF
Tony Hall, Director General of the BBC, Baron Hall of Birkenhead, shared his experiences of leading global organisations at an event organised by the Bayes Centre for Professional Service Firms last month. The veteran BBC journalist and former CEO of the Royal Opera House took part in an hour-long interview with Professor Laura Empson. From dealing with internal politics to working out who to trust, and from rebuilding confidence in an organisation to getting conflicting personalities to work together, Lord Hall shared a compelling series of leadership insights and anecdotes from his 40 year career.
Professor Ian Kirkpatrick speaks on "(Under) managed professional service organisations"
Professor Ian Kirkpatrick, Director of the Social Science Institute at the University of Leeds, gave a fascinating research seminar at Bayes Centre for Professional Service Firms on 6th November on the topic of:"Public sector re-structuring and the emergence of (under) managed professional service organisations: evidence from the English NHS"
Power and politics in professional service firms
Laura Empson launched her new report for practitioners: Reluctant leaders and autonomous followers - Leadership Tactics in Professional Service Firms to a packed auditorium of senior professional service firm practitioners and MBA students. Following the presentation she was joined on-stage by two leading figures from the professional service world - Mike Cullen, Global Managing Partner (People), EY; David Morley, Worldwide Senior Partner, Allen & Overy - for a lively discussion of the research led by Stefan Stern, Bayes Visiting Professor and Financial Times columnist.
Invitation: Paper Development Masterclass for Early Career Researchers/Doctoral Students 24th June, 2014. Researching Professionals, Their Work, and Organisations
This masterclass will bring leading scholars of professionals, professional service firms, and the professions together with early career researchers and doctoral students in this field. Participants will present full papers to masterclass panellists (Professors Daniel Muzio, Laura Empson, Roy Suddaby, James Faulconbridge, and John Sillince) and receive detailed, developmental feedback with a view to developing their papers for publication in leading journals. This year's masterclass, which follows on from the very successful masterclass held at Bayes last year, will be held at Newcastle Business School.
Marie Curie Fellowships: Applications invited by the CPSF
The Bayes Centre for Professional Service Firms (CPSF) invites prospective applicants to the European Commission Marie-Curie Individual Fellowships to be hosted by the CPSF at Bayes Business School.
The Fellowships last for up to three years and the applicant must not have spent more than 12 months in the host country in the past three years.
Potential applicants are invited to initially submit a CV and brief research proposal for consideration by the Centre. Please send these expressions of interest to [email protected] by the end of June.
Candidates selected to make a Fellowship application in collaboration with the CPSF will receive support for their proposal development from Bayes Business School and the City Research Office.
Bayes Business School and the Centre for Professional Service Firms have an outstanding record of success with these Fellowships, with all three Faculties currently hosting Marie Curie Fellows. The School has a highly international academic staff and is a welcoming and collegial environment located in the heart of the City of London.
Profession Fest - Register now
Several members of the Bayes Centre for Professional Service Firms will be presenting at a one day academic conference at Edinburgh University. If you are interested in attending please contact Professor Chris Carter (see below)
Professor Mats Alvesson and Dr Amit Nigam join CPSF
Mats Alvesson is Professor of Business Administration at the University of Lund, Sweden and at the University of Queensland Business School, Australia. His research interests include critical theory, gender, power, management of professional service (knowledge intensive) organisations, leadership, identity, organisational image, organisational culture and symbolism, qualitative methods and philosophy of science.
Amit Nigam's research focuses on understanding processes of organisational and institutional change. He is particularly interested in the role of professions and occupations in shaping change processes, and in the role of interpretive processes in impacting change.
Professor Laura Empson joins KPMG's Public Interest Committee
Laura Empson has been invited to join KPMG's public interest committee, as one of four independent non-executives. The Public Interest Committee is responsible for overseeing the public interest aspects of the decision making for KPMG in the UK.
Two new articles published by CPSF members
Daniel Muzio and James Faulconbridge publish "The Global Professional Service Firm: 'One Firm' Models versus (Italian) Distant Institutionalised Practices." in Organisation Studies
Jo Silvester and colleagues publish "Politician personality, Machiavellianism and political skill as predictors of performance ratings in political roles" in Journal of Occupational & Organisational Psychology
New CPSF Working Paper Published
"Leading autonomous followers: Indirect, overt, and covert leadership practices in professional service firms" by Laura Empson and Johan Alvehus
Oxford Handbook of Professional Service Firms Colloquium at Bayes Business School
In September many of the world's leading PSF scholars gathered at Bayes for a colloquium on the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Professional Service Firms. The event was followed by a Paper Development Masterclass for Early Career Researchers working in this field
Laura Empson is Financial Times Professor of the Week
Laura Empson has been named the Financial Times Professor of the Week. The Professor of the Week chooses a term to define, which is added to the Financial Times Lexicon business glossary. Laura chose 'leadership constellation', a term developed in her current research study of leadership dynamics in professional service firms.
Two new working papers published
'Leadership and Professionals' by Laura Empson and Ann Langley
Read the working paper
'Exclusive Inclusivity: Securing Status and Legitimacy in the UK's Elite Professional Service Firms' by Louise Ashley and Laura Empson
Two new academic articles published by Centre members
'The global professional service firm: 'One Firm' models versus (Italian) distant institutionalised practices' by Daniel Muzio and James Faulconbridge
Olivier Chatain of Wharton gives a research seminar at Bayes
In June, Olivier Chatain presented his paper 'Deploying individual-level resources under constraints: Evidence from the UK M&A legal advisory market'
Who's in charge? Exploring leadership dynamics in professional service firms
19 June 2013
Just published: Initial report for practitioners by Professor Laura Empson, Who's in charge. According to The Times newspaper, "For anyone with aspirations to lead a professional service business, this report is essential reading."
Marie Curie fellowships: Applications invited by the CPSF
The Centre for Professional Service Firms invites prospective applicants to the Marie Curie Intra-European and International Incoming Fellowships. Bayes Business School has an outstanding record of success with these Fellowships. They are aimed at supporting researchers with a PhD or at least four years of research experience to acquire new research skills in another European Community Member State or Associated Country (i.e the UK in the case of the Fellowships at Bayes.) Fellowships last for a period of 12 - 24 months. Potential applicants are invited to initially submit a CV and brief research proposal for consideration by the Centre. Please send these expressions of interest to Rob Whitelam by the end of June.
"Managing a global financial service firm... dark art or exact science?"
Professor Laura Empson discussed her research with panellists Jeremy Anderson (Chairman, Global Financial Services, KPMG); Tony Angel (Joint Global Chairman, DLA Piper); Wim Dejonghe (Global Managing Partner, Allen & Overy); and Patrick Hynes (Co-Managing Partner, EMEA, Spencer Stuart) at the Business of Law Seminar Series organised by Allen and Overy.