The big 4 in Bangladesh:caught between the global and the local


Purpose- This article explores the work practices of Big 4 firms in Bangladesh with the aim of exploring the extent to which Global Professional Service Firms can be thought of as being genuinely ‘global’. Methodology/Approach- Interviews were undertaken with the vast majority of Big 4 partners in Bangladesh. These interviews explored a number of themes related to the professional service work context in Bangladesh and the relationship between local and global firms. Findings- The central finding of this paper is that although the Big 4 have a long-established presence in Bangladesh, local societal factors heavily influence the realities of work for accountants there. In most cases the Big 4 firms establish correspondent firms (instead of full member firms) in Bangladesh and tend to offer restricted service lines. Additionally, the paper identifies professional, commercial and cultural barriers to greater Big 4 involvement in the local market. Conceptually, the chief contribution of this paper is to explore how the effects of globalising capitalism and standardised ‘best practices’ in global professional service work are mediated through the societal effects of Bangladeshi society, resulting in the Big 4 having only a tentative presence in the Bangladeshi market. Research implications- The findings cast doubt on the extent to which self-styled Global Professional Service firms are truly ‘global’ in nature. Future work examining the Big 4, or accounting more generally, in the context of globalization, would do well to pay greater attention to the experience of professionals in emerging markets. Originality/Value- Whilst there has been much work looking at accounting and accountants in the context of globalization, this work has tended to privilege ‘core’ western empirical settings. Very little is known about Professional Service Firms in ‘peripheral’ or emerging markets. Furthermore, this study extends the application of the System, Society and Dominance framework by mapping the interactions and dynamics of these three sources of influence in the setting of PSFs.

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Divisions: College of Business and Social Sciences > Aston Business School > Accounting
Additional Information: © Belal, Spence, Carter & Zhu. Published by Emerald Publishing Limited. This article is published under the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 3.0) licence. Anyone may reproduce, distribute, translate and create derivative works of this article (for both commercial & non-commercial purposes), subject to full attribution to the original publication and authors. The full terms of this licence may be seen at
Uncontrolled Keywords: Big 4,global professional service firms (GPSF), globalization,emerging markets,Bangladesh,Accounting,Economics, Econometrics and Finance (miscellaneous)
Publication ISSN: 1758-4205
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Related URLs: http://www.scop ... tnerID=8YFLogxK (Scopus URL)
PURE Output Type: Article
Published Date: 2017-01-01
Accepted Date: 2016-12-31
Authors: Belal, Ataur R. (ORCID Profile 0000-0001-6144-8907)
Spence, Crawford
Carter, Chris
Zhu, Jingqi



Version: Published Version

License: Creative Commons Attribution

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