Accounting for Success: A History of Price Waterhouse in America, 1890-1990

9780071033909: Accounting for Success: A History of Price Waterhouse in America, 1890-1990
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Set firmly within the larger context of American business history, Accounting for Success traces the evolution of the century-old, distinguished accounting firm of Price Waterhouse (PW). Allen and McDermott divide Price Waterhouse's history into three distinct periods. The first (1890 to the mid- 1920s) covers the establishment of the American outpost of a British parent and the Americanization of its practice. The second (the next forty years) highlights PW's rise to unrivaled professional leadership and the important role played by the audit. The third (the 1970s on) focuses on PW's response to the challenges brought about by the globalization of the economy, heightened competition among firms, and the growth of nonaudit services. The authors also address six central themes that recur throughout PW's history: the importance of the partner; the significant role played by the law in shaping the accounting profession's rights and responsibilities; the changing nature of accounting services; the continuously evolving and complex business environment; the highly visible role played by PW's leadership; and PW's worldwide approach to its business.

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From the Back Cover:

While histories of companies abound, little has been written on America's professional service partnerships such as those in the accounting or legal fields. Now in Accounting for Success, Allen and McDermott help close the gap with an absorbing account of the century-old distinguished accounting firm of Price Waterhouse (PW). Written in a crisp and engaging style, this book traces PW's rise to leadership through three distinct periods. The first period (1890 to mid-1920s) encompasses the growth of the firm from a one-man outpost for a British parent to a successful, Americanized partnership in its own right. These years mark the beginning of PW's trademark relationships with blue chip clients as well as the formation of some of the firm's most distinctive characteristics: its decentralized structure, dispersed offices, autonomous partners, and generalist orientation. With the coming of the securities laws of 1933 and 1934, the reader witnesses the dawning PW's golden second period which continues through the next forty years as the firm dominates in its role of auditor to America's largest corporations. The market upheavals of the 1970s usher in PW's third and current period - a time in which the firm, like much of American business, finds itself having to adapt and change in the face of a globalized economy, heightened competition among firms, and an explosion of information technology and nonaudit services. Throughout Waterhouse's illustrious past century, six central themes recur that offer valuable perspectives for those looking toward the future, the impact of the "professionally autonomous partner" on the firm's strategic outlook, the significant role that the law and litigationplay in shaping the profession's rights and responsibilities, the changing nature of accounting, the shifting markets for professional services, the highly visible public face of the firm's leadership and PW's worldwide approach to its business.

About the Author:

Since 1984, Harvard Business School Press has been dedicated to publishing the most contemporary management thinking, written by authors and practitioners who are leading the way. Whether readers are seeking big-picture strategic thinking or tactical problem solving, advice in managing global corporations or for developing personal careers, HBS Press helps fuel the fire of innovative thought. HBS Press has earned a reputation as the springboard of thought for both established and emerging business leaders.

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