Scoping an agenda for future research into the professions

Chris Carter, Crawford Spence, Daniel Muzio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose – This paper is premised on the understanding that professions remain central means of institutionalising expertise in society. A summary of major issues that are prominent in recent studies of the professions is presented in order to inform the paper’s central objective which is to scope out an agenda for future research in the area. The paper aims to discuss this issue. Design/methodology/approach – This is a desk-based study informed by, but not limited to, the other papers appearing in this special issue. Findings – This paper identifies and summarises a number of central themes: globalisation and neo-imperialism, the role of the state in professional projects, the rise of tax avoidance as a moral issue, the implications of tax professionals moving from the public to the private sector, the study of small-scale accounting firms, the rise of new expert groups and the emergence and implications of new audit spaces. Research limitations/implications – The value of this paper is in bringing together a number of important but eclectic themes to scope out an agenda for the future study of the accounting profession and expert labour more broadly. The paper questions whether the term profession is still meaningful in a context where many professions have been re-made in the image of commercialism; it suggests that a focus on experts might be more apposite. Originality/value – In scoping out an agenda this paper calls for greater attention to be paid to: examining the role of experts and their role in some of the major crises of the times; exploring how professions have often undermined their own legitimacy; understanding better the relations between professions and the state; the extent to which the next generation of partners will behave very differently to the current incumbents; the way in which digitalisation opens up new vistas of expertise; and in investigating the position of different expert groups in relation to societal elites. The paper reiterates that major societal issues are framed through various forms of expert knowledge and as a corollary it is essential to engage with experts and the implications of their proposed solutions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1198-1216
Number of pages19
JournalAccounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Oct 19 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Experts
  • Globalization
  • Legitimacy
  • New audit spaces
  • Professions
  • Tax

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Accounting
  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance (miscellaneous)


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