Every week a business school professor, an expert in his or her field, defines a key term on FT Lexicon, our online economics, business and finance glossary.
Our professor this week
Professor Laura Empson is director of the Centre for Professional Service Firms at Cass Business School, part of City University London. She also teaches the MBA elective Managing Professional Service Firms.
Prof Empson has spent the past two decades researching professionals and professional service firms. She has published numerous articles in leading international academic journals, as well as translating her research for a practitioner audience, most notably in her 2007 book, Managing the Modern Law Firm (Oxford University Press), and is currently editing the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Professional Service Firms, which will also be published by Oxford University Press.
She is deeply committed to translating her research for practitioner audiences and to working with practitioners to apply her research to resolving the problems they face. She acts as an adviser to many of the world’s leading professional service firms in areas such as accounting, law, investment banking, actuarial and management consulting.
Through her consultancy work she translates her scholarly research into actionable insights into a range of issues that challenge leaders in professional service firms, including leadership and governance, succession planning, organisational and cultural change, mergers and acquisitions, knowledge transfer, and partner evaluation and reward systems.
She was previously associate professor (Reader) at the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School and remains a Supernumerary Fellow of St Anne’s College, Oxford.
Before becoming an academic, Prof Empson worked as an investment banker and strategy consultant. She has a PhD and MBA from London Business School and a BSc(Econ) from University College London.
Prof Empson has chosen to define the term leadership constellation.
Why Prof Empson believes the term leadership constellation is important
“The professional services sector generates more than $3tn in revenues globally,” says Prof Empson adding that professional service firms play a significant role in developing human capital, creating innovative business services, and setting legal and accounting standards.
She says professional services firms have also played a major role in reshaping government institutions and industries throughout the world, helping to define management “best practice”. They have also helped establish and interpret the rules of financial markets.
“The corporate scandals of recent years and the spate of banking collapses have raised serious questions about professional advisers’ culpability in the context of their clients’ business failures,” says Prof Empson. “Errors of leadership in professional service firms, therefore, have potentially serious implications for the global economy.”
Prof Empson believes that developing a deeper understanding of effective (and ineffective) leadership dynamics in this context benefits not just professional service firms but society more generally. The leadership constellationframework can be used to analyse and develop insights into the complex leadership dynamics of specific professional service firms.
To find out more about leadership constellation, click on the related terms.