Transnational Infrastructures of Professionalization, Political Entanglements of Professional Services

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Abstract

Professions scholarship has renewed inquiry into the institutional infrastructures of professionalization in transnational contexts. In this paper, I argue that, as professional work becomes distanced from traditional national hallmarks of professionalization through transnational organizations, regulation and cultures, the institutional infrastructures of professionalization, in turn, become distinctly transnational – with significant political implications. I provide evidence from a major qualitative study of one area of global professional services: transfer pricing, the practice of pricing cross-border transactions of goods and services within multinational corporations. Transfer pricing underwrites a substantial part of the world economy and has become a key battleground for fights over international corporate taxation. Here, I find three key themes illustrating the nexus of transnational professionalization and political entanglements. First, domain-specific transnational regulatory standards are central to professional identities, enabling professionals to effectively resist political alternatives and entrench their preferred logics of globalization. Second, professional claims to distinctiveness emphasize the soft, flexible practices enshrined in these transnational standards, providing professional services significant discretion to shape the level and location of global corporate profits and taxes. Third, professional service firms control the production of both transfer pricing expertise and transfer pricing experts through exclusive careers and professional interactions, dominating the knowledge upon which regulators and companies rely to act.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2021
Publication statusPublished - 2021
EventSASE 33rd Annual Conference: After Covid? Critical Conjunctures and Contingent Pathways of Contemporary Capitalism - Virtual, Duisburg, Germany
Duration: 2 Jul 20215 Jul 2021
Conference number: 33
https://sase.org/event/2021-sase-conference/

Conference

ConferenceSASE 33rd Annual Conference
Number33
LocationVirtual
CountryGermany
CityDuisburg
Period02/07/202105/07/2021
Internet address

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