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Strategic and Functional Orientation of Small and Medium Sized Enterprises in Professional Services: An Analysis of Public Accountancy


  • Sharmistha Bagchi-Sen


This study examines how SMEs in public accountancy remain competitive, promote and deliver their services. The association among strategic planning, functional diversification (services and markets), methods of promotion and delivery is also examined. These SMEs face considerable difficulty in overcoming both in-house and external barriers in accessing clients requiring non-traditional services (e.g. management consulting), and clients involved in international business (broadly defined). The results show that the proactive, functionally diversified, and/or internationally oriented firms outperform the reactive, functionally concentrated, and local market oriented firms. The competitive advantage for the former categories is based on flexible specialisation such as customisation of services for specific groups of clients, speed of delivery collaboration with other producer service firms, and specialised skills. These firms utilise informal networks to promote their services with minimal investments in sponsorships or media selling. Face-to-face interaction with clients continues to be the preferred mode of service delivery despite the increased adaptation of local area networks and other modes of internationally technology by the proactive, functionally diversified or internationally oriented firms.

Suggested Citation

  • Sharmistha Bagchi-Sen & LINDA KUECHLER, 2000. "Strategic and Functional Orientation of Small and Medium Sized Enterprises in Professional Services: An Analysis of Public Accountancy," The Service Industries Journal, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 20(3), pages 117-146, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:servic:v:20:y:2000:i:3:p:117-146
    DOI: 10.1080/02642060000000035

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    Cited by:

    1. Gerrit Sarens & Patricia Everaert & Frederik Verplancke & Ignace Beelde, 2015. "Diversification of External Accountants Serving Small and Medium-sized Enterprises: Evidence from Belgium," Australian Accounting Review, CPA Australia, vol. 25(2), pages 155-174, June.

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