The division of expert labour in the European audit market: The case of Germany



Evans L & Honold K (2007) The division of expert labour in the European audit market: The case of Germany. Critical Perspectives on Accounting, 18 (1), pp. 61-88.

The implementation of three EU company law directives in Germany in the 1980s triggered a bitter dispute over the audit jurisdiction. This was fought out between an established "elite" occupational group of state-recognised auditors and aspiring related, but less qualified competitors. It ended with a compromise imposed by politicians. Our paper aims to contribute to the understanding of accounting professionalisation in different local and historical contexts by examining how the dynamics between the competing interest groups shaped the outcome in this particular episode. We base our analysis on the framework proposed by Abbott [Abbott A. The system of professions. An essay on the division of expert labour. Chicago/London: University of Chicago Press; 1988], but find that it requires refinement to explain the interactions between all actors, including the state and third parties. These interactions were complicated by simultaneous inter-and intraprofessional conflict, as well as by the peculiar complexity of ambiguous professional and jurisdictional boundaries, both in terms of work performed and professional qualifications held. Our discussion supports prior suggestions that Anglo-American theories may not be sufficient to explain professionalisation projects elsewhere, and considers additional dimensions which may be useful in explaining such projects also in other national and historical settings.

German audit profession; EU directives; Statutory financial statement audit; Abbott; Audit jurisdiction; Jurisdictional disputes; Second-tier auditors

Critical Perspectives on Accounting: Volume 18, Issue 1

Publication date31/01/2007
Publication date online15/12/2005

People (1)


Professor Lisa Evans

Professor Lisa Evans

Professor of Accounting, Accounting & Finance