Research on professional service firms emphasizes similarities in their organization and management and distinctiveness from other types of organization. In this paper we take a different tack and focus on the differences between professional service firms, that is, on heterogeneity across different professional sectors. We argue that differences between professions on a number of dimensions affect the nature of professionals' work and, in turn, the organization and management of firms across different professional sectors. Drawing on the sociology of professions literature we focus on three key dimensions of knowledge, jurisdictional control and client relationships to compare legal, auditing and engineering consulting firms. We consider how differences in these dimensions across the three professional services sectors impact upon the way firms are organized. We offer a number of propositions explicating how differences in the nature of knowledge, jurisdictional control and client relationships have implications for organizational form, team-working and pricing systems. Copyright (c) Blackwell Publishing Ltd 2009.
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