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date: 04 July 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter synthesizes and extends the literature on governance in Professional Service Firms (PSFs). It discusses four foundational theoretical perspectives on governance in PSFs: the agency, the partnership/partnership ethos, the stakeholder, and the trustee perspective. The authors argue these perspectives speak to structural or cultural views of governance, but they leave unanswered critical issues. Given the state of the literature, they argue for going beyond these foundational perspectives. They take a legal normative view of governance, defined as the legal and non-legal rules, norms, conventions, standards, and managerial practices that facilitate the coordination and conflict resolution among the critical constituencies of PSF for the firm as an institution. In so doing, the authors identify a critical unexplored issue in the study of governance of PSFs from a legal-normative view: the definitions of rights and obligations among critical constituencies and how that plays into conflict resolution mechanisms built into PSF governance.

Keywords: governance, professional service firms, partnership, conflict resolution, stakeholder, rights and obligation, agency, trustee

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