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Integrating Personal Expertise: A History of Japanese Audit Firms, 1965-2010

Masaru Karube and Hironori Fukukawa

No 13-07, IIR Working Paper from Institute of Innovation Research, Hitotsubashi University

Abstract: To examine empirically the knowledge integration process of professional expertise that individuals have in a professional firm, this paper examines the emergence and growth of four large audit firms (ShinNihon, Azusa, Tohmatsu, and ChuoAoyama) in Japan over a period from the mid- 1960s to 2010. Known as the Big Four, these firms.the product of a series of mergers between more than 70 audit firms.handled the vast majority of audit services for listed companies during this period. After the dissolution of ChuoAoyama in 2006, the remaining three audit firms have dominated the market. A longitudinal case study documents how these professional service firms were successful in providing nationwide services through mergers with domestic competitors and the provision of global services in alliance with large international firms, even though they did not sufficiently realize the systematic attainment of individual expertise. The historical account of this process suggests that the two driving forces underpinning the merger growth of the Big Four were strategic intent in (1) systematizing individual expertise and (2) establishing nationwide and global service networks in response to the increase in size and growing diversity and complexity of their client base. Finally, this paper discusses the knowledge tension between localized individual expertise and organizational knowledge in a global context.

Pages: 43 p.
Date: 2013-03
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-acc and nep-his
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