This article uses the case of law firms in Hong Kong to develop a processual approach for understanding lateral mobility in professional service firms. Based on the analysis of 1,461 lateral moves of law firm partners reported in 300 monthly issues of the official journal of the Law Society of Hong Kong during 1994-2018, as well as archival data and interviews conducted in Hong Kong, the article offers both a bird's-eye view of the lateral mobility of partners across law firms of different jurisdictional origins and an in-depth investigation of how elite law firms in this market, namely the Magic Circle and Wall Street firms, are influenced by the dynamics of professional flows. Theoretically, the article reconceptualizes professional service firms as organizations connected by and transform through the flows of professionals between them, a dynamic process characterized by three key concepts: waves, cycles, and turning points. In addition to its theoretical contribution, the study has broader implications for understanding Hong Kong's economic transformation since the 1990s, particularly after Hong Kong's handover to China in 1997 and the global financial crisis in 2008.
- Hong Kong
- professional service firm
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Business and International Management
- Strategy and Management
- Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management