From meticulous professionals to superheroes of the business world : a historical portrait of a cultural change in the field of accountancy

Authors: Picard, Claire-FranceDurocher, SylvainGendron, Yves
Abstract: Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to examine the relative cultural shift from professionalism to commercialism in the accounting profession, based on an analysis of the promotional brochures used by the Ordre des comptables agréés du Québec (Institute of Chartered Accountants of Québec), over the last forty years, to attract new members. Design/methodology/approach – The study’s specific objectives are: (1) to examine accountancy’s cultural representations depicted in promotional brochures; (2) to evaluate the extent to which these representations are indicative of the commercialist shift as documented in the literature; and (3) to establish whether the representations under study provide further insight into the nature of the cultural shift. Drawing on the semiotic approach developed by Roland Barthes, our analysis is predicated on the idea that promotional brochures and advertisements, though often simple in appearance, constitute complex representations that convey meaningful information about influential values and cultural change. Findings – We found that commercial values are increasingly apparent through the celebration of multidisciplinary services and the emphasis on generous compensation and high dynamism. Originality/value – Barthes’ framework was especially useful to analyze the interplay between images and text to gain insight into the historical emergence of what has become the accountant’s representation of today. As such, our study points to promotional representations participating to the inculcation of a cosmopolitan culture, where the internationalization of business is supposedly natural, inevitable, and beneficial to everyone. Our research also highlights the increasingly significant role played by marketing experts in designing professional institutes’ brochures, consistent with the broader view of marketization as a key trend within the accounting industry.
Document Type: Article de recherche
Issue Date: 2 January 2014
Open Access Date: 27 September 2016
Document version: AM
This document was published in: Accounting auditing and accountability journal, Vol. 27 (1) 73-118 (2014)
MCB University Press
Alternative version: 10.1108/AAAJ-09-2012-1087
Collection:Articles publiés dans des revues avec comité de lecture

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