Musings on Accounting Research by Steve

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Monthly Archives: November 2013

Management Accounting research – whither it goest????

Well folks if you are going to the Management Accounting Conference in January I will be on a most interesting panel on what do we need to learn about management accounting.

You may well ask what is Steve doing on such a panel? Indeed, Steve asked that very question when he was asked and he reminded organizers he was soon to be ex- CAReditorsteve when the invite was extended. The organizers replied that they knew I had a long term interest in management accounting research BUT more importantly I would think carefully and not be afraid to “call it as I see it!”

Yes I have published four articles on the Balanced Scorecard as Performance Measurement SYstem and I have an audit paper on benchmarking and the BSC where I conceptualize auditors as potential internal/ external users of the BSC to access audit risks. Further I have attended most GMARS conferences in the last decade missing only two of the ten held! I also teach Management Control Systems on occasion and have recently developed a course on risk management and governance that has a management accounting flavour in much of it.

But at the end of the day at best I am a “fellow traveller” in management accounting research so no doubt my thoughts will be considered, if at all, to be more than slightly off the wall! But it is fun to think about it and you know “I will call it as I see it” worts and all!!!

Methods and reviewing

After three years of reading only CAR papers and papers associated with the little research I was doing myself I am beginning to catch up on back logged papers from the time I was away. This term I am teaching a doctoral seminar on experimental research in accounting and using it as an excuse to read a lot of financial accounting behavioural research – a field that has really been busy over the past decade.

One thing I have noted is the increased use (or put better misapplication) of path analysis, especially via Structural Equations Modelling (SEM). This method can be so easily misapplied if one is not careful with what one is doing that I strongly caution anyone asked to review research think twice about it if you are not already deeply acquainted with the method. SEM cannot be learned in a hour or a day but it takes three to five days of full time guided study to become minimally competent to conduct and properly access a SEM application.

Given the vastly varying quality of published applications in top tier accounting journals it is obvious to me that many reviewers and editors do NOT know how to evaluate such models!!! So stop faking it and if you do not know how to use a method DO NOT bluff your way through a review and hope for the best. After all SEM has not been a staple research method taught in accounting PHD programs until very recently and you should not be ashamed to admit that you cannot access such a complex method without in-depth study.

Manifesto of the Radical Centre

Every since I was young I had grand visions of writing a manifesto!!!  Now that I am of the ripe old age of 53 I decided I would start to write one.  So without further adieu I unveil today – the Manifesto of the Radical Center in Accounting Research (MRCAR – pun intended).  Today you will see a new permanent page across the top of this blog (yep if you are a subscriber I think that means to have to go to to see the page.


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