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Examining Professional Identity: The Views of New Zealand Chartered Accountants

The purpose of this thesis was to examine the professional identity of New Zealand chartered accountants. A perusal of prior literature indicated that professional identity is integral to a profession, yet the concept has not been well defined. This study attempts to gain a greater understanding of this term. Specifically, semi structured interviews were conducted with 60 New Zealand chartered accountants. These participants were categorised by both their areas of employment and level of experience. The areas of employment included: top tier, midtier, rural, industrial, and academic categories, while their level of experience was segmented into 0-2, 3-5, 6-10 and 10+ years of experience. These interviews were transcribed and run through Leximancer 4.0, a computer textual analysis program. This software produced conceptual maps, key themes, and concepts which were used in the data analysis process. The findings of this thesis were specific to the New Zealand accounting body: NZICA. Consistent with prior studies, this paper found that the term “professional identity” was not well understood. Indeed, terms such as stereotypes, traits, characteristics, attributes, and branding were used interchangeably for the term. Furthermore, there was a misalignment between the professional identity portrayed by NZICA and the interpretation of its members. Members identified a weak relationship between themselves and their institute. This was a consistent finding across the entirety of the sampled population. This study has practical implications for future research. NZICA passed a vote as recently as October 2013 to become “One New Institute”, thus it is currently undertaking a rebranding process. This study identifies weaknesses in current branding that may, in future, be able to be remedied. Furthermore, this study is replicable and can provide other institutes with an opportunity to gain insight into their respective organisations. As no prior accounting literature has undertaken to define professional identity, this investigation also provides an insight into the term. As a result, this insight can be applied to wider academic literature.
Type of thesis
Blake, E. (2014). Examining Professional Identity: The Views of New Zealand Chartered Accountants (Thesis, Master of Management Studies (MMS)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/8800
University of Waikato
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