Musings on Accounting Research by Steve

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Yearly Archives: 2018

The equinox et al.

Here in the northern hemisphere we are entering the coldest season on the year while our friends to the south are entering their warmest!

Many of us take holidays at this time of the year, whether it is due to the Christian or Jewish faith tradition or as a secular response to excessively cold or warm temperatures.

No matter what I wish you and all your loved ones the very best of the season. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Joyeaux Noel, etc etc!

Back in January unless something big happens!

CAR and mission accomplished

I am going to pat myself on the back in this post!

But I thought this cAR related event should not go without passing.

EVERY issue of CAR this year has had at least one interpretivist field paper published in it. A couple had positivist field qualitative papers as well. They represent a most interesting set of topics that expands the mind!

In other words the breadth revolution started by Richardson and Salterio in 2001 is firmly ensconced at CAR. This year we also had external validation of the effectiveness of that strategy when research compared the outcomes of CAR’s diversity approach versus TAR’s approach to diversity. See Signaling effects of scholarly profiles – The editorial teams of North American accounting association journals”  in Volume 51 2018 of Critical Perspectives on Accounting.

Mind you I paid a price for ensuring that this revolution succeeded in light of the attempt some in the CAAA to turn back the clock with the appointment of my successor as CAR EIC. I think that the forceful position I took may well have contributed greatly to stopping the clock from being turned back.

But sometimes you have to pay a price to do the right thing! But it sure feels good to have made a change for the better!!!! ( end of patting on back)!,

SSRN and social constructionist/interpretive accounting researchers

After 25 years of building bridges I am pleased to see a lot more engagement between positivist and interpretist researchers both within journal communities and indeed at several conferences. One area where they do not seem to meet much is on the working paper platform started by accountants now owned by Eliviser. The Social Science Research Network – SSRN – for short.

SSRN has been used by positivist researchers around the world to gather early reaction to working papers and act as a means of dissemination of what folks call “Grey” papers. Grey papers are a key resource to the academic community if one is looking to find unpublished papers with null effects that might indicate unpromising paths or leads on research that is not reproducible.

But there is a distinct lack of uptake of this free resource by interpretivist researchers. Instead one has to look for conference websites and personal networks to find out what is going on in this community of accounting scholars. Why is it not used? No idea to be frank but I have never heard of any attempts to silence alternative accounts on this platform and I have personally posted my interpretivist work on this site.

Heck, I suspect the good folks at SSRN might set up an ejournal that focused on qualitative accounting research if you asked!


Travelling to USA

After the US elections I see no reason to change my policy of restricting travel to the USA to essential trips only. While I recognize it is a drop in the bucket my personal policy of economic sanctions on the USA continues. I continue to urge readers to think carefully about US Conference travel and unless your trip is of a high impact variety, consider whether you should reward the US economy by using your scarce research funds to support that economy.

It is clear that US citizens do not yet realize the consequences of their electing the current President and it is up to those of us outside the USA to do what we can not to reward such behaviour. Management Accounting 101 hear about incentives, rewards and penalties at work here.

If one does have to make a trip, do it on a non-USA based airline, stay at hotels that are from non-USA based companies, rent vehicles from non-us based rental firms, etc. In other words get their attention the only way it seems effective – via $$$$$.

Looking for a new bRIA senior editor

Wow, the job add for my replacement in 2020 went out today!

Would have be nice to have a heads up before it was posted!

Heck, the first issue under my editorship comes out in the new year.

But as they say in French, the more things change the more they stay the same!

Women in the Academy

A couple of months ago I noted that my old school, the university of Waterloo had a bit of egg on its face as it forgot to get it’s only Nobel Prize winner promoted to full professor. Well in time for the Nobel ceremony they did it, she became a full professor in November! Take about avoiding major embarrassment in Stockholm!

But the key message for accounting researchers is look around your school! Are there deserving female, visible minority’s or other what we quaintly call at Queen’s “equity seeking” associate professors that may need encouragement to go up for promotion to full professor? I have been active on several campuses over the years but sometime it is a hard sell especially in countries like Canada where there can be little or no monetary rewards for all the work it takes to put in the documents. And I will admit it, I am not convincing in every case ( look at my Faculty list at Queen’s to realize that)! But at least I know I have tried! Sometime it just takes years to persuade!!!

But remember, the face of the academy counts! Why do you think in the USA that less than one percent ( yeah you read it right 1%) of CPAs are African Americans? Maybe the small number of role models in academics might have something to do with it!

And that’s how I see it!

Nudging academic researchers

While the BYU boys are playing with ROAR (one of the most obvious and unhelpful research activities I have seen in recent years) what if we adapted behavioural nudges ideas from Richard Thaler ( Nobel prize winner) to the defaults in expectations for accounting research.

What if it was expected that every assistant professor going up for tenure at every research school was expected to take part in writing a research synthesis of interest to standard setters and/or professional bodies as part of the tenure expectations? Don’t laugh so hard as it is the expectation at many medical schools that their junior researchers should have been involved in one Cochrane collaborative research synthesis to show they are of high enough quality to be included in a knowledge translation research synthesis group! It is another way of highlighting you are an stablished enough scholar that colleagues value you involvement in knowledge transfer activities.

Why a synthesis focus – to get knowledge transfer activities away from the non-value added focus approach on individual papers. Papers and journal articles are the building blocks of academic knowledge and great for transfer of knowledge in the community of scholars. They are likely the worst vehicle for knowledge transfer to non academics. A synthesis focuses on questions of interest for practitioners, forces academic partnerships across methods silos all with the aim of producing comprehensive evidence (NOT the answer) for practitioners.

What if being included on a synthesis team was a new default expectation in addition to X published papers in Y set of journals. Or better yet as a valued substitute for one of those papers! This default solves in one fell swoop the issue of incentives to do synthesis work in accounting and auditing! For more on what a research synthesis is (and importantly is not) see blog post of Nov 7 or go directly to:

Video link:

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