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The Global Professional Service Firm: 'One Firm' Models versus (Italian) Distant Institutionalized Practices

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Publication details

JournalOrganization Studies
DatePublished - Jul 2013
Issue number7
Number of pages29
Pages (from-to)897-925
Original languageEnglish


Through a historical case study of the internationalization of large English law firms into Italy, this paper uses Scott's (2005) three pillars approach to look at how local institutions constrain and mediate the strategies and practices of global professional services firms. In doing so, it corrects the economic bias in the growing body of literature on the internationalization of PSFs by stressing how local regulations, norms and cultural frameworks affect the reproduction of home country practices, such as the one firm model pursued by large English law firms, in host-country jurisdictions. The paper also extends existing work on institutional duality (Kostova, 1999, Kostova & Roth, 2002) by developing a fine-grained, micro-level analysis which emphasizes the connections between institutions and practices. This is crucial, we contend, since the difficulties encountered by PSFs (and multinationals more generally) in their internationalization do not result from collisions between home- and host-country institutional structures per se, but between the diverse practices generated by distant institutional environments.

    Research areas

  • institutional duality, institutional theory, internationalization, one firm model, professional services firms

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