SYNOPSIS

Trade associations should play an integral role in defining and defending the legitimacy and jurisdiction of a profession. In addition, they should provide a field upon which individuals can rise above the confines of their organizations and grow their professional leadership capacities. Evidence in the literature suggests that U.S. accounting conformed to this pattern under the auspices of the American Institute for Certified Public Accountants (AICPA). However, various recent events have transpired that reduce the confidence that this continues to be the case. Using network analysis on longitudinal data from 1997 to 2013, this paper documents an increasingly fragmented and isolated leadership structure. This finding suggests the reduced influence of the AICPA. Surprisingly, this decline has not been offset by the stronger influences of the large international firms. Implications for the profession are discussed.

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