In contrast to the conventional focus on recruits and members, this paper examines identity construction in professional organizations. It explores authenticity work - identification activity directed at external audiences to assert distinctiveness. The focus is on commemorative celebrations of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS) and the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) during the twentieth century. Evidence from archival and published documents demonstrates that the chartered bodies in Britain were anxious to assert their uniqueness in an increasingly congested professional field. The analysis shows that ICAS made authenticity claims based on its unique position as the first accountancy body in the modern world and emphasised its status as the originator of the institutions of the accountancy profession. The ICAEW, by contrast, initially stressed its alignment to progress and modernity and later emphasised its standing as the leading professional body located at the centre of economic and political power. It is suggested that comprehending the authenticity claims of these organizations is potentially significant to understanding the fragmentation of the chartered accountancy profession in Britain.
- organisational authenticity
- Great Britain