The purpose of this paper is to provide a historical account of four unsuccessful merger attempts between Australia’s two major professional accounting bodies over a 30-year period (1969 to 1998), each of which ultimately failed. An analysis of the commonalities and differences across the four attempts is provided and social identity theory is used to explain the differences between members level of support for these merger bids.Design/methodology/approachThis study adopts a qualitative approach using a historical research methodology to source surviving business records from public archives and other data gathered from oral history interviews.FindingsThe study found that, across all four merger attempts between Australia’s two professional accounting bodies, there was strong support from society members (the perceived lower-status group) and opposition exhibited by institute members (the perceived higher-status group). This study also found that the perceived higher-status organisation always initiated merger discussions, while its members rejected the proposals in the members’ vote.Research limitations/implicationsThis paper focusses on the Australian accounting profession, considering a historical account of merger attempts. Further research is required that includes interviews and surveys of those involved in making decisions regarding merger attempts.Originality/valueThis paper is the first to examine in detail these four unsuccessful merger attempts between the largest accounting organisations in Australia.
Journal of Management History – Emerald Publishing
Published: Aug 21, 2020
Keywords: Accounting history; Mergers; Accounting profession
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