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The firm that would not die: post-death organizing, alumni events, and organization ghosts

Power, Michael ORCID: 0000-0001-8148-3953 and Tuck, Penelope (2023) The firm that would not die: post-death organizing, alumni events, and organization ghosts. Critical Perspectives on Accounting, 99. ISSN 1045-2354

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Identification Number: 10.1016/


We show that alumni events, as settings where workplace identities and relationships reappear and are restaged, are not simply instruments to build and sustain commercially valuable networks. In some cases, they are also forms of post-death organizing for the purpose of celebrating and remembering defunct organizations. Based on participant observation of three annual lunches for alumni of the former accountancy firm Deloitte Haskins & Sells, and interviews with participants, organizers and non-participants, we show that, while alumni reveal an identification with the firm by the act of attending, their first-order motives are primarily social i.e. to meet old colleagues. The “dead” firm as an organization is an indistinct object for them. Yet notwithstanding the weak nature of their firm-based identity, in aggregate the seating arrangements at these lunches re-stage formal features of the dead organization simply from individual alumnus choices to sit with former colleagues. Far from being a trivial emergent outcome, our hand-collected seating plan data is suggestive of how organizations can have a “ghostly” afterlife via alumni events. This analysis establishes intersections between studies of professional service firm alumni events, post-death organizing and ghostliness and points to a broader agenda of enquiry into the afterlife of defunct organizations.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2023 The Author(s)
Divisions: Accounting
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HF Commerce > HF5601 Accounting
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
H Social Sciences
Date Deposited: 10 Aug 2023 23:23
Last Modified: 16 Jun 2024 23:21

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