Transnational Infrastructural Power of Professional Service Firms

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Recent work has emphasized how global professional service firms exercise power over and through transnational institutions to shape economic globalization. Responding to calls for further research on these dynamics, this paper argues that global professional service firms, in particular the Big Four (Deloitte, EY, KPMG and PwC), exercise power in the global economy by commanding transnational infrastructures of expertise that provide stability and order to globalization, and which form a critical resource that other actors – namely corporations and regulators – depend on to act. Through a combination of qualitative interviews, participant observation and career analysis, the paper studies how global professional service firms control the transnational domain of transfer pricing. I find that such control relies on command over key expert pathways and career experiences required for recognised transfer pricing actors and practices. This power in turn enables global professional service firms to resist political and professional challenges, providing professional discretion to entrench their preferred logics of economic globalization, and ultimately determine the levels and locations of corporate taxes.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages45
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Professional service firms
  • Economic globalization
  • Power
  • Infrastructure
  • Transfer pricing
  • Transnationalism

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