Understanding the Socialization Strategies Among Accountancy Firms

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The socialization strategies are to be utilized by organizations, firms, and companies with an aim to integrate newly arrived employees. There exist certain concerns on the way the accounting compoanies utilize those socialization strategies in ordet to recruit new personnel because of the famous Enron debacle as welll asd some other frauds that are common among audit firms. In his article, Fogarty proposes the need to investigate the contemporary accounting labour process and general work conditions in the field (p. 130). This research is focused on the close examination of the incorporation of the new accounting employees into accountancy companies. This research utilizes an interpretive study to review the web pages, brochures, as well as human resource magazines used and implemented. The findings demonstrate enculturation behaviours application by the big five accounting companies during the recruiting process and retention. Introduction Before the Enron debacle, major accounting firms faced challenges in hiring and integrating auditing staff. There was a shortage of new accountancy graduates in the US, coupled with poor retention rates of staff with two to five years of experience. This led to the need to focus on recruiting and retaining labour by incorporating new graduates in to accountancy firms as fast as possible.

According to Greising, Arthur Andersen was known for its St.Charles, Illinois center for training accountancy graduates and incorporating them within three weeks of training. The demise of the AA’s program raised questions such as: Why didn’t AA professionals question management’s dictated actions? Do the same problems face other firms? Are they yet to be discovered and will they lead to similar disastrous behaviour? Such questions show the importance of researching on socialization processes in accounting firms.

According to Dirsmith and Covalesk, most researchers focus on socialization of individuals in to organizations, but fail to focus on the socialization process within accounting firms (150). Roslender comes in to advocate for future research on accounting labour issues and conditions accountants face.

Based on Roslender Critical accounting and the labour of accountants, this study explores the socialization processes involved in accounting firms during recruitment of new staff (480). Roslender raises an issue on failure of researchers to view the accountant as powerful co-operator, which leads this study to focus on the benefits of socialization process as opposed to those of individuals in accounting firms (480).

With the use of qualitative approach, the study also analyses (Forgaty’s 146) application of institutional theory to socialization in audit firms. It examines the extent to which accounting firms have used the socialization process in their recruitment process. To acquire unobtrusive measures of the big five accounting firms, an interpretive study that uses accretion data (information over a period of time which provides record on interactions, language and common rituals in an organization) is reported. This study approach helps in providing practical understandings and actions in accounting firms.

The organizational socialization framework

Fogarty stresses on individual commitment to the organization and sees this as the best outcome of socialization. The organization shapes and molds individuals towards attaining its goals and objectives (146).

Literature Review

This literature review focuses on previous researches and literature work by Dimaggio & Powell and Forgaty on their contribution to socialization strategies in accountancy firms.

DiMaggio and Powell come up with three mechanisms (coercive, mimetic and normative) which lead to isomorphic change in an organization. According to them, coercive isomorphism is the result of pressure applied to an organization by other organizations they depend on. Mimetic isomorphic involves the mimicking of an organizations manner of operation, and normative isomorphic is concerned with the role of professionals in an organization (120). According to Forgaty, coercive isomorphism is the force applied to an individual by the organization to motivate them to work. Mimic forces on the other hand are the changes an individual experiences in order to achieve an organization’s set goals. While normative forces applied to socialization as the adaptation of an individual to the professional roles of an organization. These three forces shape an individual to conform to the goals and objectives of an organization (130).

Forgaty, on the institutional theory to the socialization process in public accounting firms, he comes up with a model on the available recruiting materials of the big five accounting firms. The model shows some of the social behaviours individuals are introduced to immediately they are recruited in an organization. This is important in the audit setting since trust is important in the audit process (129).

Previous researches and literature work have shown the importance of a proper socialization process in audit firms. This study will draw from various scholars’ work to bring out a good understanding of the socialization strategies of major accountancy firms.

Research Methodology

Morgan states that the best way to learn the culture of an organization is to observe the day to day functioning of the organization (121). Hence, an interpretative approach is used in this study where intrusive techniques are used for direct observation of behavior within an organization.

To examine the interaction, language used, images, themes and rituals used in the recruitment process by the Big 5 accounting firms, unobtrusive measures such as examining the brochures, magazines and web pages were used.

Latent content analysis is also used in rating the importance of language, symbolism, and power in socialization strategies which are used as independent examples in this report (Berg 242).


The data collected reveals that the coercive isomorphism is practical in recruiting new staff in audit firms. The new employees have to follow the bureaucratic structure of their employer to attain success. From the AA, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC), KPMG, Ernst & Young, Delloite & Touche (DT) websites, it is clearly stated that training, mentoring and experiences in the organizations are linked to success and reward to the employee. The Big 5 audit firms emphasize on evolution through historical information present in their websites of how they have evolved over years of existence.

The mimic isomorphism is evident from the Big 5 firms. They emphasize on internships, seminars and mentorship that help individuals mimic the elites (the experienced individuals) in the firms. The mimetic force makes the individuals change from within and seek full membership (Forgarty 130). The teamwork, knowledge sharing and passion for quality answer the question on how the Big 5 are able to incorporate graduates within the first few weeks of joining them.

The normative force of an individual adapting to the professional roles of an organization reveals itself from the website content and testimonials used by the Big 5 accounting firms. They assure potential members of professionalism and getting great experience from the firm; which is explicitly good rom the others.


This study examines the socialization processes used in the Big 5 accountancy firms in the US during the period preceding Enron debacle. The latent content analysis shows method used shows that the firms apply strong socialization processes in recruiting and retaining accounting staff. The process seems more engaging for individuals since they bind themselves to professionalism and interests of the organization. The process seems to be intense on accountancy firms

Further research is required to investigate more on issues affecting accounting labourers and the factors considered to recruit new members. These would be good platforms to base criticisms.

Works Cited

Berg, B.L.2001. Qualitative Research Methods for the Social Sciences. 4th edition. Needham

Heights, MA: Allyn and Bacon.

DiMaggio, P., and W. Powell, 1983. The iron cage revisited: Institutional isomorphism and

collective rationality in organizational field. American Sociological Review 113-123.

Dirsmith, M. W., and M.A. COvaleski. 1985. Informal communications and mentoring in public

accounting firms. Accounting, Organizations and Society 10:149-169

Fogarty, T.J. 1992. Organizational socialization in accounting firms A theoretical framework and

agenda for future research. Accounting, Organizational and Society 17: 129-149.

Greising, D. 2002. Boot camp. Failed to train all they could be. Chicago Tribune (April 21): 1.

Morgan, G.1986. Images of Organizations. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications.

Roslender, R. 1996. Critical accounting and the labour of accountants. Critical Perspectives on

accounting 7: 161-484.

March 10, 2023



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