Governance of professional service firms: a configurational approach

Research output: Journal contributionsJournal articlesResearchpeer-review


Professional service firms (PSFs) such as accounting firms, management consultancies, or advertising agencies use very different forms of governance ranging from traditional professional partnerships to public corporations. In spite of the extensive literature, little academic work has been done to synthesize the wealth of theoretical and empirical work on PSF governance into a more comprehensive theory of PSF governance. Taking configuration theory as our theoretical approach, we identify three classes of design parameter (legal form, organizational governance structure, and the systems for managing professionals) and six contingency factors (service commoditization, service diversification, firm size, capital intensity, firm culture, and risk of litigation) that are synthesized into four configurations of PSF governance. These are described, respectively, as the founder-dominated, the collegial, the managerial, and the entrepreneurial configuration.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSchmalenbach Journal of Business Research (SBuR)
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)125-160
Number of pages36
Publication statusPublished - 01.06.2014

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014, The Author(s).

    Research areas

  • Management studies - Archetype theory, Configuration theory, Governance, Professional partnership, Professional service firms, Public corporation