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The Handbook of Mergers and Acquisitions$
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David Faulkner, Satu Teerikangas, and Richard J. Joseph

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199601462

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199601462.001.0001

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Mergers Between Professional Service Firms

Mergers Between Professional Service Firms

How the “Big Eight” Became the “Big Five”

(p.593) Chapter 24 Mergers Between Professional Service Firms
The Handbook of Mergers and Acquisitions

Nicholas C. Fairclough

Samantha Fairclough

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses merger and acquisition behavior between professional service firms. Professional service firms are specific kinds of organization, they are knowledge-intensive, and are comprised of highly skilled, autonomous individuals who provide high-value advice to both industries and governments; they perform an important role in national economies. Professional service firms are often organized as partnerships; partnerships differ in important ways from companies, both in the manner in which they are owned and managed, and in the way they are regulated and treated by the law. It explains the important characteristics of professional service firms, how they are managed and organized, and how a partnership organization differs from a company. Then, through an examination of how and why the elite accounting firms consolidated through merger between 1985 and 1998, it demonstrates the kinds of issues that are important and relevant to professional service firms. Drawing on this examination, it then develops a typology of the different rationales which underpinned the decisions to seek merger, illustrating how the specific characteristics and considerations of professional service firms mean these rationales can differ from those seen in the mainstream corporate sector.

Keywords:   professional service firms, autonomous individuals, partnerships, accounting firms, corporate sector, national economies

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