Musings on Accounting Research by Steve

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Monthly Archives: April 2015

Why should we be interested in research from country X?

one of the frequent comments I hear from European faculty and doctoral students about American based journals  (and occasionally about CAR) is getting reviews that state something like this “why should we be interested in beligian or Dutch or Swedish companies/audit firms/auditors/management accountants . . . . . .”.??

 It is hard to believe that in this day and age of globalization there are still educated Americans who think the only thing that matters is US data!  Sure the U.S media makes it appear that the USA is all that matters in the news – whether it be politics, economic or entertainment and that cannot help but wear off on Americans who do not travel much outside their own state let alone there own country!  But really, among educated accounting faculty especially those considered competent enough to review for top journals!???

If we truly believe that theory matters and that generalization is based on theory, cannot all research that is competently done help in this respect?  Or are many American positivist are really just interpretivist in disguise believing that everything is local and its meaning subjectively interpreted and time bound!  

I urge journal editors to apologize to authors when they send out reviews with such comments in them to show that at least the American editors understand that without foundation with such statements are ignorant and maybe even provoke the reviewer who said it to do some reflection!

EAA Glasgow

well I have made it to Glasgow after a short trip to Scotland’s capital!  It is a little known fact that this Canadian is one half Scottish on me mom’s side so I feel right at home here!

It will be interesting to get a sense of where European accounting research is 20 years after my first visit when the meeting was held in Birmingham !  One thing for certain is that much has changed!  

However One thing that bothers me is that without discusants on the vast majority of papers, young scholars get very little feedback from presenting here!  Why?  The review system is designed to separate the wheat from the chafe by having a relatively centralized scientific committee where each member I am told evaluates 30 to 50 papers!  

That by necessity results in little feedback besides the four fold classification of paper with discussant, presentation with question time, presentation in a set of five papers or research forum!  While this system has the advantage of maximizing participation it minimizes feedback received!  For at most conferences the only hope for feedback for the submitter comes from when the discussant is a more senior faculty member who works in the area or a better trained junior faculty member or advanced PHD student!  

Perhaps the EAA should have special sessions where European junior faculty and doctoral students get feedback from senior faculty!  In any case I urge the EAA to take some concert steps to find a way to turn the Conference into a better learning and development opportunity for young European scholars – just a thought!

In Europe again

i am visiting yet another new part of the world for me – Amsterdam in the Netherlands!  While technically speaking I have been in the country before it was at an ISAR (International AUdit Research Sympoisium) which had as many Anglo Saxons at it as many smaller Noth American audit conferences have .  Hence, my first real taste of the Netherlands and the Dutch in their natural environment!

My impressions are extremely positive with excellent attendance and engagement at both the paper workshop and the craft workshop!  The later was especially fun as students from three Dutch universities as well as two prospective students attended!  I only hope the no holds barred look at the craft realities did not deter the young folks!

Learning tacit knowledge ( if it can be taught at all) takes more than one workshop by an outsider but at the same time just hoping students will ” get it ” by observing you as a faculty member is not enough in this day and age.  We need to do all we can to help our younger colleagues in training move down the learning curve as fast as possible!

Finally I cannot resist a bad pun.  It appears the colour  theme of my sabbatical has been clearly orange!  First in the orange capital of North America – Florida – and then in the home of the House of Orange – the Kingdom of the Netherlands!

Preparing our doctoral students for the brave new world!

As the accounting job market continues to mature after an almost constant state of supply being much less than demand, it behoove doctoral advisors to prepare their students more for the job market.

At Queen’s I offer four seminars based on my analysis of the Canadian and U.S. Job market.

  • A 2 hour introduction to job market expectations and intelligence every year for all accounting doctoral students
  • A 2 hour preparing for the job market for students thinking about making this year’s job market about three months before the Miami AAA job market meeting ( for. Non NA readers this occurs six weeks before formal campus interviews are conducted in Miami FL in December)
  • A 2 hour getting ready for the ” fly-back” The latest American term for a visit to the university shortly after Miami!
  • A 2 hour negogiating the job offer right before fly backs begin.

Nothing elaborate and open to all types of accounting research types, these give our students the tools to succeed!  Every queen’s student who has taken all hour seminars has received multiple job offers – including offers at levels offered by many PhD granting programs in the U.S. Outside the elite couple of dozen!

These are not mandated for students nor am I compensated for doing so!  But I do report it as formal service as part of my annual accountability report to the dean!

I firmly believe that the laisez faire approach no longer is enough as the market matures!

JAR’s Long climb back to leadership

While a certain Canadian journal cannot process its accepted papers in a timely fashion, let alone do anything innovative, JAR is slowly taking back its former place as the leading innovative America’s based accounting journal!

Why do I, who has never been known as a friend of JAR, say that?    I suspect a lot of the world missed the brief announcement last week on SSRN that JAR was proposing something quite inventive for accounting journals! The JAR conference 2017 topic was announced TWO years early and its a doozy!

“Registered reports” is the theme in ’17 and it is based on a two stage process. First, develop in detail a research proposal but do no data collection – submit  the proposal for review and then get tentatively accepted for JAR ’17 Conference. Second, assuming you actually carry out AND analyze the research as specified in the proposal, Then present the paper in 2017!

Further they are emphasizing non- traditional data sources as part of the call!   High risk research welcomed they state!

The JAR Editors are suggesting that ex ante acceptance of ideas and plans of action will lead to two good outcomes:

1. Less culling of the data to try and find statistical significance!

2. Removing the barrier to high risk research by removing ex post uncertainty of publication!

While as usual the devil is in the details that will not be announced until June – my hat is tipped to the JAR Editors who have slowly moved over the past two years to bring JAR back from being a pale imitation of JAE and towards being the American rebel it once was!  Amazing what turning 50 does for you!  It either is the beginning of the end or the start of reinvorgation! Let’s hope it is the latter in JAR’s case!

Missing the main effects – not a story about experiments

Some techie observations will big implications for our research!  From strange but true research articles in accounting!

  • Focusing on a 0.3 % (0.003) increase in likelihood of restatements in a cross- sectional pooled article about the SOX time period while avoiding mention that during that period the number of restatements declined by more than half (50%)
  • Focusing on hedge strategies that worked prior to their being revealed in academic research in pooled cross- sectional data over 30 years.  yet ignoring the fact that once the research identifying them was published the consistency of the hedge returns occurring and the significance of them economically is radically smaller.

It seems to me that cross- sectional pooling of data increases the chances of forests being missed while the growth of saplings is emphasized!

I ask:

Just because everyone else is pooling should you?

Should editors require pooled data to be broken out into annual cross- sections to keep claims “honest?”

The Financial Accounting Reporting Section grows up!

Last week there was a great announcement from the AAA’s Financial Accounting Reporting Section – they were establishing a section journal!  Finally the largest AAA section accepts the fact that they are a section NOT the Association!  Indeed, it must mean they understand that The Accounting Review is NOT their section journal as I have heard many say over the years, sometimes seriously – sometimes jokingly!

Further they announced that the journal – the Journal of Financial Reporting – would be looking to publish some non traditional studies – including field studies!  Now who exactly will they appoint that can evaluate such studies, we will have to wait and see.  

While I still have to do some due diligence, I am afraid that I do not see much evidence of such expertise in the three co-editors  that were announced with the journal announcement !  While they are all great folks – people I have great respect for and worked with during my time at CAR running the senior scholar one round review (SOAR – RIP) – are they the ones that are going to look for innovative new studies including field studies when they have spent their careers maintaining the status quo in their own departments and doctoral programs!  Excuse me if I am a bit skeptical!

Nonetheless the proof will be in the journal – not in the eyes of this Canuck!  A Canuck who is glad to be home again and out of the land of exceptionalism!

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