Musings on Accounting Research by Steve

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JAR wakes up!!!

What was once the leading journal in the accounting world with some of the strongest editors in the accounting world has finally realized that it has published papers by Jim Hunton and,oh by the way, it might have to inquire into them! Shock and surprise!

See their note here:

Click to access 9DE545DD1C264C4A98AB5080956BBD64.pdf

After all they are members of COPE ( Committee on Publication Ethics) through their publisher Wiley-Blackwell and should have been on this months ago when the original retraction by TAR was made. furthermore, it is not clear that they have yet read the COPE materials as the JAR editors’ note does not exhibit any understanding of what their responsibilities are as editors with respect to the matter.

What would former JAR editors like Sydney Davidson, Nic Dopuch and Katherine Schipper think of the lack of leadership shown by the present group of editors??? Rather than being in the forefront JAR once again finds itself lagging behind (as it also lags JAE and AOS in the recently released citation / impact factors). Then again, what should you expect from such a journal that has only two editorial boards members whose intellectual heritage is not based a very limited subset of financial economics! occasionally JAR shows signs of intellectual life but once again they disappoint!

AOS and ABO

It is somewhat amazing that the rather smallish behavioural accounting community in North America cannot separate two conferences! Yes indeed the AOS Conference on intangibles, made up mainly of behavioural papers and the ABO Mid-Year meeting are on the same two days in October. The former in Chicago and the latter in Philly!

The Accounting, Behaviour and Organizations section of the AAA was founded in the 1980’s to give AOS types in North America a rallying point at the height of the paradigm wars! Yet today they act as two ships in the night. Is BRIA really giving AOS such a run for its money that the AOS brain trust feels the need to snub the ABO by running a Conference opposite it’s Mid-year Meeting? Or is AOS deciding to become disconnected from North America as several other of its decisions suggest???

It is not as if a quick look at the calendar would not have revealed this potential conflict.

But maybe this is a show of strength by the behavioural community that it can run two conferences on the same days and attract enough folks to both!!! At least I hope this is true. As for me, Chicagoland here I come!

What’s in the public interest for accounting comments?

The AAA four centers approach was illustrated in the President’s speech by questions that each center might deal with as part of its mandate.

The centre that was to focus on public policy and thought leadership (i.e. the public interest) was illustrated with a question that is a fair bit beyond the remit of accounting “What are the effects of national debt on households in the future?”

Excuse me????? What in our background as accounting scholars and teachers that gives us a comparative advantage in answering such a question or posing public policy solutions to such a question?????

I am pretty confused by that one. Yes some of accounting academy have micro-economics training but look at what happened with micro-economic theory (i.e. agency theory in this case) was used to set macroeconomic policy.   In September 2008 the then US Secretary of the Treasury said that firms had to be allowed to fail in order to deal with problems surrounding moral hazard thus justifying his decision to let another financial institution go under.  Indeed on the last Friday in September he left the world with the thought that AIG needed to pay the same price that Bear Sterns and Lehman Brothers had paid.  Luckily at the last minute he changed course and lead a what eventually became a highly profitable rescue of the insurance giant AIG.  Most economists and bankers believe that allowing AIG to fail (the largest insurer to many of the world’s banks) would have resulted in an implosion of the world economic system that would have made the 1930’s look like a decade of prosperity.

So I am not so certain we would want those accounting folks toying with macro economic questions.  Nor do I feel especially certain that psychology or sociology based researchers have any more to offer on such a question.

So while it is important for accounting academics to become engaged in larger questions in our society, it should be about institutions and issues that we have an comparative advantage in studying.  Securities laws and practices, the regulation of public and private companies, the supporting of the not for profit sector, government accounting and getting it right accounting rather than the politically expedient slight of hand accounting that is so often practiced, issues about taxation and fairness of such systems, the quality of auditing and how to make it work better, and so on and on and on.  These are all issues that accounting scholars have some comparative advantage in.  Commenting on those issues would be talking in the public interest based on our knowledge rather than our lack of knowledge.

So lets stay away from questions that we have no basis for addressing.  It would be a sad day if an accountant is widely quoted about the effects of the national debt on households in the future!

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