Musings on Accounting Research by Steve

The Fens following with vacation

So I have not written much in the last two weeks!  Why?  I went on vacation after the Fens ended.  Saw more of Adelaide and Melbourne including an amazing AFL (Australian Rules Football) game at the MCG (Melbourne Cricket Grounds).

AFAANZ conference was eductional and enjoyable as usual.  From the SIG (special interest group) sessions on Saturday night and Sunday morning (only in Australia would an accounting group have its annual meeting and panel discussion on a Saturday night whilst having a formal dinner and dance on a Tuesday night) to plenaries to paper sessions I found more than enough to see and do to fill out my schedule.  I have to admit that “speed dating” is not a term that I assoicate with accounting but the management accounting SIG pulled it off.

Unfortunately for our Australian colleagues, the federal government in Australia has gotten the Research Assessment Exercise bug from the UK. So now millions of dollars will be spent trying to prove that university research has relevance.  Watch for an uptick in press releases from down under.

But as an accountability researcher, my view is that this too will pass – maybe not as fast as we would like – but in due course it will be normalized much like it is in the UK and other countries where it has been undertaken.  Mind you I object to the deadweight loss to society of such assessment exercises but it seems to be the price that we have to pay in this post modern age.  We have to remember that 100 years ago universities were very small places – indeed in the entire UK in 1920 only 4500 undergraduate degrees were granted (source: ). Part of the price we pay for being such big enterprises is the amount of “public” scrunity that comes with size.

At the Fens

AFAANZ (pronounced as “A Fens” to this Canadian ear) Conference is the annual conference of the accounting and finance academics in Australia and NZ.

It has been six years since I last visited this happy crew and from what I can see the trajectory of accounting academia “down south” is still going strongly upward.

The doctoral students were amazing at the doctoral consortium held before the conference and discussed in my last post.  Doctoral students presented both their own work and discussed those of their classmates.  The presentations and discussions were both on par with any that I have seen around the world.

The most amazing thing I have seen is the changes in the finance part of the stream.  A senior full professor of finance at Sydney U has fully embraced qualitative research methods (he is still a postivist) including interviews, surveys etc as part of his research program on finance in retirement funds (known as super (as in superannuation or pension) here).   A big shout out to Professor Doug Foster who at a late (or “later” – no pejoratives intended here) stage in his career took the time to learn and apply new methods (as well as signing up knowledgable co-authors) at world class behavioral research standards levels.



I will be “girding my loins” to enjoy the doctoral symposium of AFAANZ today.  I was a guest of the symposium in 2011 when I was a plenary speaker at AFAANZ main conference.  I promised that I would return one day as a regular resident faculty member and this is that day.  Thanks to David Smith and company for having me.

I must say that one thing that strikes me about AFAANZ doctoral symposium both this year and in 2011, for a country that has such a diverse research tradition, the representation of students at AFAANZ is strongly capitial markets and finanical economics.  Any American faculty member would not feel out of place here with 75% or more of the students being some version of finanical economics based.  One of those strange puzzles about the big down under (or up there depending on your perspective).

In any case, as being the faculty member in the miscellaneous group I am looking forward to a set of really great presentations if the papers provided are any indication.

GMARS doctoral symposium

I like to pickup on ideas in my rare trips around the world.  I had heard of the GMARS doctoral symposium but I had never managed to talk my way into it.  This year I was allowed to observe.  Most interesting approach.  Students present research, faculty do a formal discussion (as Eddy Cardinaels learned at the last minute that means powerpoint slides) and then a general discussion ensues.  It seemed to me to be a real risk!  What if faculty blew away the paper, would doctoral students have any comments that did not mimic the faculty member’s discussion, etc????  Well it worked and worked well.  I think you need to have a very special set of faculty to make it work, but apparently the UNSW Sydney (the only U I know that has rebranded three times in five years) can make it work.  Salute to Kerry Humphreys and her gang especially her main assistants Paul Andon and Yee Shih Phua as well as the key faculty.

GMARS is still the best MA conference

Without doubt GMARS is by far the best Management Accounting conference on the planet.  While others may be larger, or have individual years where they excel, for consistent high quality management accounting research you cannot beat GMARS.

This year in Sydney was no exception.  Under relatively newbie conference chair Jane Baxter there was an excellent selection of social and behavioral management accounting research with a bit of economics based work thrown in.  The latter was a bit of a disappointment but it just may have been a thin year for archival based MA research.

The social and behavioral work was excellent with experimental economics, psychology based, case and field studies, survey based research all well represented.  I got to present a paper for the first time in 11 appearances at GMARS (those who know me know that my management accounting work has been spotty in recent years after three top tier papers at the turn of the century), notched another discussion (11th discussion I believe) and a late breaking addition to the program – an editor’s panel.

I was so kind, I did not mention the SSCI during my time on the editor’s panel 🙂  Maybe I can be a diplomat in my old age.

The SSCI – more sillyiness

What one American Senior Editor saw when he read the latests Business/Finance results for the Social Sciences Citiation Index two year impact factor focusing on accounting journals.

  1. JAE 3.839
  2. JAR 3.0
  3. TAR 2.304
  4. CAR 2.269
  5. AOS 2.158
  6. AJPT 1.937
  7. RAST 1.756
What the SSCI actually listed for accounting – see any difference????
3 Management Accounting Research 3
4 Accounting Auditing & Accountability Journal 2.732
8 British Accounting Review 2.135
9 European Accounting Review 2.107
12 Critical Perspectives on Accounting 1.5
13 Accounting and Finance 1.396
14 Journal of Business Finance & Accounting 1.276

ISAR a most successful gig!!!

Well ISAR was excellently run Liz Carson in her first solo attempt at chairing the conference.  Her long time sidekick/mentor/etc (Roger Simmett) was off being a standard setter this weekend so Liz ran the show.  And well run it was.  When the final plenary has nearly as many attendees as the opening plenary, you know something has gone well.

From a social and behavioral perspective it was great to see the diversity of methods on display.  We had a number of field studies, the usual set of experiments, a couple of experiential surveys plus some attempts to use psychology research in archival audit settings.  The topics ranged from critical audit matters, the use of specialists, audits of estimates, some CSR assurance related research etc etc etc.

Next year the conference moves to Maastricht.  One week after the EAA Congress in Milan.  Now if GMARS gets with the program, I may be able to do the trifecta in Europe next spring!!!  Ah, perchance to dream. . . . . .