Musings on Accounting Research by Steve
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Day 2 – research at NFC

The NFC is both exciting and exhausting from a senior faculty member perspective. Three breakout sessions plus a research fair plus interactions socially.  Hence, the quiet week on the blog front.

A big shout out to JMAR Senior Editor Karen Sedatole who was the main voice (okay the only voice) for research diversity on the formal program.  Indeed, she raised a name that I suspect was virtually unknown to most of the US junior faculty present, Anthony Hopwood.  Mind you I think Anthony would have had a very dry chuckle in his way about his face appearing on US Mount Rushmore (if you are not American look up what types of faces are on Mount Rushmore – heck even many Americans probably could not tell you – sigh.).  Karen made the point that intellectually we allow agency theory to dominant the discourse in accounting when agency theory is such a small part of mainstream economic thinking let alone psychology and sociological thinking.  Great graphics made the point.  And she told us what she was going to say, said it and reminded us of what she said – no passing reference here but truly putting herself on the line in favor of intellectual diversity in accounting research.  A tough thing to do in front of an audience of 71% archival and 58% financial accounting researchers.

Mind you, I was not totally surprised because I know Karen is a charter member of the Radical Centre.  However, I was surprised to hear her reveal that to the world, at least the world as represented by junior faculty.  Well done Karen!!!!


Day 1- teaching

In a real change in emphasis from my last trip here, the first full day at the AAA NFC was devoted to teaching and service! For a while I thought I was at the conference on teaching and learning. But I realized as our breakout group on teaching went long by 15 minutes over it hour length, that was a good thing.

Even in a group dominated by reduced teaching loads 3/0 or 2/1 everyone had a story or question! It reminds me that as a senior academic we may not give our junior colleagues enough support in that area. It suggests department heads and other administrators need to do more than talk about the rhetoric about supporting good teaching! It was a wee bit humbling for this researcher who loves to teach to realize that we may not be so good at letting others know about our passion for teaching and that we did not come to be in the classroom fully formed.

Food for thought!

Evening 1 at US New Faculty Consortium

Wow what a difference a few years makes.  The NFC is now much more responsive to the entire population of schools that new faculty teach at in the USA.  Teaching loads vary from the minority at 3/0/0 and 2/0/0 to 3/3 and above with the mode and mean being the 2/2 load.

Mind you, based on the new faculty who were sent this year, diversity in US research is still a long way off. 71% are archival researchers and 58% are financial accounting even though less than 50% teach financial accounting.  Experimental research is still hanging in there at above its long term average at 25% (20% is long term).  But few case studies, field studies, surveys, and no history, . . . . . Dah, . . . . . .Does that not suggest that the production of PhD’s in the USA is more than a bit narrow in focus and not focused on the market realities.

The practice speaker was asked, how can we better influence practice. His response do a better job at studying human behavior of preparers, auditors etc.  Experiments, case studies, field studies, surveys and even history would provide some insights but with an audience of 71% archival researchers . . . . . .


EAA’s ARC (Accounting Research Center)

Got an invite the other day to write a post on another blog – the EAA Accounting Research Center ( blog.  The EAA ARC is designed to help strengthen the experience of European doctoral students and programs.  The mission is:

Motivated by the EAA’s key priority of stimulating the research productivity of doctoral students and junior faculty, our goal is for the Accounting Research Center (ARC) to develop into the EAA’s one-stop location for research resources and networking opportunities relevant for emerging scholars and others interested in accounting research.

However, the site attempts to be many things and I will have to spend more time then I have right now to figure out what is going on in it.  But one comment based on a quick read:  The point of a blog entry is to get in, make a short and to the point insight about an issue – hopefully memorable – not to write an essay, mini-thesis etc.  Hats off for effort to the organizers and the EAA.  When I get the time to understand it better, I will contribute.  Until then, enjoy the referrals from MOREbySteve.

New Faculty Consortium – US style

So somewhat surprisingly after my last adventures at the American New Faculty Consortium (see my old CAReditorsteve blog for posts about that adventure) I received an invite last fall to be a “Senior Faculty” Leader at the American Accounting Association’s New Faculty Consortium.  Here, every AACSB accredited university program can send a new faculty member to get “indoctrinated” into the world of being a faculty member – US style.

My last visit was somewhat controversial as I took on the myth that all new faculty are created equal.  I asked: do you really believe a Wharton new faculty member who graduated from Stanford has the same set of issues and challenges that a Mississippi State faculty member has who graduated from Jackson State?  Yet this was the rhetoric at Consortium – “all men are created equal” aka as in the US Constitution (leaves out a few groups but . . . . ).

I advocated that faculty had to figure out what their strategy was if their main job was not (as the Wharton/Michigan/Stanford new faculty job is) to teach their one preparation in one term at the MBA level and get their five to eight top 3 (or maybe top 4 or 5 or 6 if you are lucky) journal papers published in the next five years.  Well, as you might guess, I was not invited back the next year!!!!

So stay tuned, and we will see if anything has changed.  The program has a reduced set of voices in the plenary setting (I do not get to address the plenary – no surprise there) but has set up greater diversity in the smaller breakout groups.  Furthermore, there is some sense of realism in the program that did not exist a decade ago.  So . . . . .

Disney is doing behavioral economics research!!!!

After 30 plus years in this business I am rarely surprised at anything I hear about anymore.  But the fact that Disney Research (a division of the Disney TV and Movie and Theme Park company) has a behavioral economics research program as well as a social psychology research program floored me.  Apparently Disney Research both hires researchers directly and engages in contract research with all sorts of academics – including social psyhologists and behavioral economists!  And that does not sound too Mickey Mouse to me!!!!  Maybe a little Goofy!!  But what do I know living up North in a Snow White world!!!  Okay enough puns for today.

The lack of research in core texts

Have you ever noticed that accounting textbooks rarely mention accounting research? Compare that to textbooks in organizational behavior, marketing, human resource management, finance and economics. Indeed, one has to turn to methods courses like statistics to find a similar lack of emphasis on research. Mind you statistical books have proofs and you know that someone had to come up with those proofs in the first place!

So does that mean there is no research underlying accounting? As you know by now most textbooks in financial accounting and tax are focused on standards (financial) and the law and its interpretation (tax). Indeed, about the only book you might have seen there is research underlying its recommendations is in the Management Control Systems course that uses the Merchant and van der Stede textbook.  Sure there is lots of research in financial statement analysis books but what about the core audit, tax and financial accounting texts????  Even in “Accounting Theory” which should be known as “Financial Accounting Theory (FAT is a great abbreviation) there is only one textbook that is heavily research based.  If we were textbook writers in many evidence based fields they would laugh at our texts!!!

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