OE stories and other unexpected outcomes in an oral history study of partners from large professional accounting firms
Baskerville, Rachel F.
Victoria University of Wellington; now at University of Exeter
Oral history reports are replete with discovery, an unexpected depth of emotion associated with recall, and the benefit of reflection some time after an event by those most intimately involved. A recent research project interviewing forty older partners in large accounting firms in New Zealand threw up some unexpected outcomes. The objective of this study is to isolate one such unexpected outcome, providing an angle on the working lives of young New Zealanders: that of the OE (overseas experience). It is likely this illustrates a common experience for oral histories: that the life experiences revealed in interviews do far more than provide personal narratives of familiar historical events. The project used both a survey and interviews to record reflections by partners in all of the 'Big 8' concerning their experiences as young employees in such firms. While talking through the required bibliographic detail, a number of accountants recalled trips to London or the USA. Considering the continuing popularity of OE, perhaps it should not have been so unexpected, and their obvious enjoyment of these reminiscences is reflected in this study.
Draft working paper