Radical strategic change in the global professional network: The "big Five" 1999-2001

David M. Brock, Michael J. Powell

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Purpose - This paper seeks to explore and explain the dramatic organizational changes that took place over a relatively short time period in the five largest global professional networks, or GPNs - a group of organizations that were originally global accounting firms and traditionally accustomed to relatively gradual change. Design/methodology/approach - Begins by describing the background of divestiture and diversification in GPNs. The data were collected from the firms' web sites, interviews with GPN managers, e-mail requests for information via Big Five web sites, and from reports in the newspapers and business press over the two-year period to June 2001. Uses neo-institutional theory to study the context, precipitating dynamics, and enabling dynamics of large-scale organizational change, including the part played by governmental and regulatory forces. Findings - Explains the extent to which changes have occurred in a sample of countries in which these organizations operate, noting that the firm effects seem to be stronger than the country effects in the consulting area, while country effects are more pronounced in the law area. Originality/value - This paper is an original study of mainly secondary data - including those collected from firms' internet sites - analyzing change in an institutionalized environment. It is one of the first studies to make use of the GPN concept. Researchers and practitioners interested in professional service firms in general will find a unique combination of data, analyses, and conclusions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)451-468
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Organizational Change Management
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Accounting firms
  • Change management
  • Organizational change


Dive into the research topics of 'Radical strategic change in the global professional network: The "big Five" 1999-2001'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this