Musings on Accounting Research by Steve

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Readers or Companions

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I have run across a couple of “readers” or “companions” to accounting research lately.  Both are part of the Routledge series – one on Auditing (Hay, et al 2015) and one on Behavioral Accounting Research (Libby and Thorne, 2018).  (NOTE:  Conflict of interest statement:  I was invited to contribute to both – lost the Hay et al email so never did; I did contribute a chapter and some advise on organizing the BAR book).

The Auditing book in some way is a lost opportunity – it could have been structured to deliver cutting edge research results in a digestible manner to the masters level classroom.  Instead what we received was the standard literature reviews across many topics of relevance but without any sense of are these comprehensive reviews, did they systematically search the literature, how can you tie the articles to specific standard audit classroom topics, etc.  I am not certain who the audience for the book is intended to be – junior PhD students, accounting faculty?????  The authors did a great job of getting some of the top people in auditing to contribute papers, but it could have been so much more!

The BAR book is somewhat better oriented in that one can see its obvious application – a research course focusing on behavioral accounting research methods.  The book has an obvious structure (see the COI note above), in that it follows the predictive validity model that was made “famous” in accounting circles by Bob Libby in his 1982 monograph from Prentice Hall.  Further, the BAR Companion has the first written expansion on one of the most famous footnotes ever, the last footnote in Kinney 1986 (the Accounting Review) that forms the basis of his famous (or infamous depending on whether you had to deal directly with Bill) three paragraphs.  While Bill has delivered extended discussions on the three paragraphs at doctoral consortium all over the world, this is the first (I believe) extend exposition of the process and the thinking behind it.  Whilst Robert Faff in Australia has made famous (or infamous with the same caveat as above) his “pitching research” approach, Kinney’s three paragraphs predated this considerably (and incidentially requires one page versus three – does that say something about North American versus rest of world research!?!)


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