Title: The socio-political constitution of expert systems and global knowledge expertise within Big 5(4) public accounting firms

Authors: Mark W. Dirsmith, Michael J. Fischer, Sajay Samuel

Addresses: Smeal: Business at Penn State, The Social Thought Program, University Park, PA 16802, USA. ' School of Business, St. Bonaventure University, St. Bonaventure, NY 14778, USA. ' Smeal: Business at Penn State, University Park, PA 16802, USA

Abstract: This article examines the development and transformation of expert systems within the Big 5(4, after the demise of Arthur Andersen) public accounting firms. Our field study reveals that this implementation was intended to encode expertise in these systems and thereby transfer power from practice to administrative partners. This effort was mirrored at the profession level by efforts to redefine the profession|s system of knowledge in terms of developing and marketing |higher platforms of service| by newly credentialed |global knowledge workers|. However, these new technologies were resisted, transformed and redirected by the practice partners, who, in so doing, ironically, came to internalise these very technologies. We conclude that expert systems played three roles within the profession: as an instrumental means of fostering operating efficiency and improving firm profits, as a political exchange among contending factions and as a means of social discourse used in extending the profession|s jurisdiction.

Keywords: expert systems; global knowledge expertise; information age; professional services; public accounting profession; politics of technology; social dynamics; technology resistance; technology transformation.

DOI: 10.1504/IJTPM.2005.008636

International Journal of Technology, Policy and Management, 2005 Vol.5 No.4, pp.361 - 387

Published online: 12 Jan 2006 *

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