Analysis of a failed jurisdictional claim : the rhetoric and politics surrounding the AICPA global credential project

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Journal article

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Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal

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Accounting, Organizational change, Professional associations


Purpose - The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) recently proposed a global consulting credential involving a diverse set of professions including accountancy, business law, and information technology. The proposal was widely debated in the professional literature, and was a divisive issue among CPAs. In late 2001, the AICPA membership voted against any further commitment to the credential. The purpose of this paper is to examine the global credential initiative in an effort to understand why professional jurisdictional claims may fail at the theorization stage.

Design/methodology/ approach - The paper relies primarily on a qualitative review and analysis of archival materials and published articles and commentaries relating to the global credential project.

Findings - The analysis indicates that the AICPA failed to establish either the pragmatic or moral legitimacy of the proposed credential in the eyes of the audiences. This failure appears to be attributable to the sociopolitical environment in which the credential was promoted, and to flaws in the rhetoric used by the AICPA to articulate its jurisdictional claim.

Research limitations/implications - The paper demonstrates the importance of legitimacy to the ability to successfully theorize institutional changes.

Originality/value - This paper investigates how the AICPA theorized the global credential knowledge claim, and how theorization failed to persuade the audiences to support the credential.



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Recommended Citation

Shafer, W. E., & Gendron, Y. (2005). Analysis of a failed jurisdictional claim: The rhetoric and politics surrounding the AICPA global credential project. Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, 18(4), 453-491. doi: 10.1108/09513570510609324