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International management challenges of professional service firms: a synthesis of the literature
Review of International Business and Strategy  (IF),  Pub Date : 2021-05-27, DOI: 10.1108/ribs-07-2020-0087
Ciara O’Higgins, Tatiana Andreeva, Nekane Aramburu Goya


This paper aims to identify what international management challenges professional service firms (PSFs) face and why they face them.


This study carries a focussed thematic literature review of 102 empirical articles. This paper uses content analysis to extract and aggregate challenges identified by researchers in their fieldwork and then analysed this data using qualitative and quantitative methods.


This study identifies 10 international management challenges that PSFs face and a number of causes for these challenges. The analysis also suggests that the distinctive characteristics of PSFs generate some of the international management challenges for PSFs.

Practical implications

This study helps PSF managers understand the international management challenges they may face depending on the specifics of their company, thus helping them better prepare their internationalisation.


This study contributes to providing a greater understanding of what is holding PSFs back in their internationalisation and why. It demonstrates that distinctive characteristics of PSFs may predict the challenges that PSFs will face, thus paving the way for further research on international management in PSFs and for the development of the diagnostic tool for practitioners that could help them to identify which challenges they should prepare for most.