Musings on Accounting Research by Steve

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EAA – a Canadian based 20 year retrospective


as readers know I first attended the EAA Congress in 1995 and only have been to it once in between, albeit in recent years I have been to continental Europe five times and have hosted several Europeans at Queen’s for extended visits!!  Hence it provides me with an interesting reflection point about accounting research in Europe vis a vis the rest of the world!

Much of Western Europe, like Canada, has become increasingly influenced by the American model of higher education for accountants over these past 20 years. However, with the exception of a handful of schools that are US clones sitting in Europe (the letters l, b and s come to mind) the EAA reflects a strong diversity of intellectual traditions that the AAA And Asian Academic Accounting Associations would be wise to imitate.

What has changed over the 20 years is the rigour of the research, no matter what substantive area or method/methodology! European based researchers are now clearly competitive in every paridigm and substantive area of accounting research. Joining their historical Strengths in modelling and qualitative research, we see robust markets/ archival research, a rising tide of experimental research and a continuation of a long line of survey research.

These advances have come at a cost!  In 1995 there were dozens of accounting practitioners floating around a much smaller congress!  In 2015, I did not meet a practitioner at the Congress!  In 1995 there was more history of accounting research whereas today, similar to most other parts of the world, accounting historians have retreated into their own world – not seemingly interested in informing the rest of us that accounting has evolved and to battle the strong sense of presentism that pervades our field!

Accounting research has come a long way in 20 years, both in Europe and the rest of the world!  The EAA has played a huge role in that development!  While the EAA faces great challenges given the diversity of development in Eastern Europe’s accounting education and research base and from the fact that many Western European Universities are seen as civil service type jobs ( with incentive systems of the civil service), I can only say “Well done!” And if I make it another 20 years I look forward to seeing the advances made!!!

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