Musings on Accounting Research by Steve

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Monthly Archives: January 2014

Some weeks . . . . .

Folks, some weeks I just get so mad at what passes for rational discourses among our editors at major journals I have to say nothing rather than chancing the libel laws. So, quiet this week about the wrongs I have seen and tried to right and the forthcoming problems that I am predicting. The worst thing is that my track record at predictions is much better than random. As I say to Queen’s social and behavioural accounting lab all too frequently – I wish I was much less accurate!

Organizing mid-year meetings

One of the easiest jobs in the academic world to screw up is running a conference for your peers.

While there are frequently support staff and conference organization experts at the end of the day the conference is judged on two foods and a bed!

First, were the sessions well organized with related papers and competent discussants? Were the plenary speakers at least tolerable? In other words food for the mind.

Second, are the conference meals and snacks edible and is the bar free long enough to satisfy the average attendees craving for food for the body???

Third, can conference attendees who want to party have a place to go to avoid going to bed and can those who want to go to bed get a good nights sleep!

Sounds simple until you try to do it well.

Kudos to the organizers of both the Audit MYM and the Management Section MAC!!! Good luck to the sections to come including Systems, financial accounting, tax and international!

Changing a field, eh???

After the Audit Section MYM I was am amazed at the number and quality of experiential surveys and interview based studies at the meeting. Top people from both an archival and experimental background are doing these studies and have been following the various suggestions that gibbins, myself and our co-authors put forth over the years to improve quality!!!

It seems like a majority of both experimental and archival sessions have either one or the other of these study types as one of the three or four studies being presented. Yet 20 years ago gibbins and i were considered “odd” with our interest in data from the field. Only goes to show what two determined Canadians can do to the world! Eh??.?

Non relevant research part II

Last time out I started my thoughts on why there is so much product waste age in accounting OR why there is so much non-relevant research being done.

Here are some likely culprits!

1. Not having training in a method that would allow you to investigate a relevant question. Instead you pound away with poor proxies and methods that do not allowed you to undertake original research!
2. Not having enough real world exposure to allow you to independently validate whether a “gap” in the literature really needs to be filled. Wim Van Der Stede proposed an interesting test of relevance at his MAC talk. In general what he said is ” a paper that is solely motivated by leftover problems from prior research and with no motivation from practice is likely to be non relevant research!!”
3. Not being aware of how other disciplines have addressed a similar question and having no reason to suspect accounting would be different.
4. Being led astray by surface differences in topics that a good strong dose of analogical reasoning , would readily suggest we know the answer.
5. Looking for the low hanging fruit of a follow up paper to a paper that was only marginally interesting in the first place.

What r your suggestions as to why we continue to waste our most precious time!

No one sets out to do non-relevant research

One of the interesting things about going to conferences is to see a WIDE variety of research. We also are regularly exhorted to do “relevant” research. But really, does anyone set out to do non- relevant research?

Well I poked around at the MAC and I could find no one willing to admit their research was not relevant!!?! Maybe I was at a rare conference where there was no research that was not relevant! But do you really believe that all 100 plus papers in Orlando were relevant?. If you do you would also buy that famous swampland in FL!,!

So why do we do non- relevant research?.???

1. Sometimes what started as a relevant project gets overtaken by events. For example all those archival and experimental audit studies done in 1999-2002 when SOX changed so many of the ceterius paribus assumptions.
2. Potentially relevant research gets overtaken by competing paper or even worse by a paper that subsumed the findings in the research.

Most people understand these things happening but surely it does not mean all non relevant paper get to this point for these reasons?.?

Later, more on other reasons.

Management Accounting Journals – an indecent proposal

As I said in my last post, I was somewhat shocked at the disproportionate lack of impact JMAR has had on management accounting research compared to the impact of AJPT and JATA on their respective domains.  Furthermore, I asserted that this likely hurts the tenure and promotion chances of management accounting scholars in addition to making important research less visible to a broader audience.

There is another niche management accounting journal that seeks the exact same market spot as JMAR – that is Management Accounting Research or MAR.  MAR has evolved over the years to be a very distinct knowledge product from JMAR in a wonderfully complementary way.  Nonetheless despite very good citation rates for accounting journals, it is a rare study that finds MAR included among the top accounting journals whereas JMAR at least has name recognition.  Further, MAR has multiple issues a year whereas JMAR is still struggling to get away from the single issue a year mode – albeit the current editor is devoting a considerable amount of political capital to ensuring that this latter change happens.

When you combine the strong citations of MAR and its somewhat distinct clientele with the North American name recognition of JMAR it is obvious to me what needs to be done –  a marriage of equals!!!!!  (for financial accountants – a pooling of interests)!

The advantages are clear to me:

  • the move to multiple issues is done!
  • management accounting has a niche journal that can compete with AJPT and JATA!
  • North American and ROW management accounting researchers will have their research more visible to each other!
  • higher citation rates and impact factors for Deans (not that I care but many real world people do)!

But the suggestion was immediately dismissed by many observers.  Likely the same ones who claim that management accounting does not have its proper status in the business school, loses out to financial accounting in both research and teaching etc etc etc.  The same set of lame excuses that have held JMAR back for two generations.

Whether it is this idea or another, the topics associated with management accounting need to be researched and understood.  We need to reduce the institutional impediments to exposing that research to the world.

So my challenge to management accountants is this – if you do not like my prescription – come up with your own and push it hard.  After all, 25 years from now do management accounting researchers want to be in the same position, especially in the English speaking countries, that they are in today?????

 

Management accounting – a decent proposal

Last year at the Audit Section MYM now incoming TAR Senior Editor, then just fellow audit prof Mark DeFond, gave an in depth analysis of the effects of AJPT on audit research.

What Mark found was enlightening! After adjusting his numbers to include AOS he reporting a one for one relationship between audit articles in the BIG 6 and articles published in AJPT. So basically AJPT doubled the numbers of arguably top tier or close to top tier articles in the audit research world!!!

I knew JATA had a similar effect in tax research so I thought I would see if JMAR, on its 25th Anniversary, had the same impact on management accounting research. The news was not good – comparing 1990-93 to 2010-13 the ratio of BIG6 to JMAR articles actually got worse! There were over two articles published (2.8) in the BIG 6 on management accounting for every JMAR article. An increase in almost 75% since 1990-93.

Clearly compared to AJPT in audit and JATA in tax JMAR, 25 years into its life, is not creating the top tier or nearly top tier outlet that impacts on management accounting research that it was hoped for. My belief is that management accounting and management accounting academics are suffering from this lack of a clear top tier niche journal.

On Monday my proposal about what to do about it!!!!

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