Musings on Accounting Research by Steve

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Another crafty class

Finished my version of the craft of accounting at UNSW late last week! Great set of junior faculty and HDR’s (I.e. PHD students)!

The “skipping meals” test of devotion and passion to research gave many of them food for thought! That test is are you so engrossed in your research work that you skip meals without realizing it! Then you are passionate about your research topic.

Just to show that old dogs can learn old tricks, this week I had that experience with a much younger co-author. We were so engrossed in planning our research that lunch moved well into afternoon coffee break time before we realized it!

That’s the passion that most readers of this blog live for.

From Sydney, G’day mate!

Still “crafty” after all these years

Back in the dying days of the 1990’s two things happened at roughly the same time, I started teaching the craft of accounting research with Professor Dan Simunic (soon to be joined by Professor Gordon Richardson) while at the same time learning about knowledge management including the differences between tacit and explicit knowledge. I quickly made the link between the two!

Explicit knowledge is what we learn in stats and methods classes as well as surveys of research in any domain. Tacit knowledge is what we try to develop in students as we teach them to critically evaluate research and help them make the first steps in original research. However most formal doctoral classes are more about explicit than tacit knowledge!

That is where the “Craft of Accounting” workshop comes in. It focuses on conveying tacit knowledge about the research discipline of accounting. We attempt to shed light on embedded practices and knowledge that one needs to learn to be a successful researcher but is hard to (and hardly ever) taught in the classroom. As the knowledge is by it very nature difficult to codify and transmit in writing it requires face time with an open mind!

Congrats to the University of Queensland doctoral students and junior faculty who participated in this year’s version of Steve’s Development of the Crafty Accounting Researcher!

Teaching positivistic field research

Last week I finished a teaching gig that focused on teaching about field research through a positivist lens! Further, it was challenging to do so at one of the top critical/interpretive/social constructionists shops in the world – Sydney University!

But the appeal of the field was small but mighty. An experimental researcher, several markets researchers, and a couple of interpretive researchers showed up for six hours of classes during the busy last week of term! While six hours can only scratch the surface of a method, it can provide pointers to relevant material for self study!

Congrats to my Sydney U students who join my University of Florida students from my last sabbatical as “graduates” of An Introduction to Positivistic Field Research in Accounting and Auditing!

Researchers and/or as administrators

As I wander around Australia and New Zealand I ponder why mid- to top- rank researchers often go into administration. Yes, there are notable exceptions, but it seems all too often we see the best researchers take on Department Chair/Head, Associate Dean, and indeed higher level positions like a Dean, vice-Provosts or deputy/vice chancellors as they call them down under.

Is it their being tired of trying to stay on the cutting edge of research? Is it their desire to build to try to build something lasting? Is it being tired of less talented people evaluating their work especially in these days of increasing performance metrification? Maybe it is the perceived returns to research, which are usually intrinsic not extrinsic, that change in value as one matures?

Whatever the reason, it happens it seems to most of us!

The four horsepeople of Evidence Based Policymaking

If the evidence based policy making project in auditing and financial accounting is to move forward I believe there are four key players in the world.  Accounting Horizons (USA), Accounting Perspectives (Canada), Accounting in Europe (i.e. Europe) and Australian Accounting Review.  Each of those journals has the mandate from its publishers to be a link between practice and academic research.

Imagine if each of those journals committed to publish a research synthesis that meets the criteria of the Centre for Evidence Based Management   in each issue of their journals.  That would mean we would quickly have proof of concept of the utility of the research synthesis as the unit of knowledge transfer to standard setters and regulators.  The criteria for such research syntheses would have to be set high, but it is not as if there is not lots of help available to make those evaluations.  In particular the Campbell Collaborative   has a robust set of tools that Hoang, Luo and Salterio (2019) have shown transfer well to the audit standard setting domain.

For a discussion of what an evidence based research synthesis would look like, see Hoang, Salterio and Sylph (2018) in Accounting Perspectives  and Salterio, Hoang and Luo on SSRN .

To see the creation of a research synthesis in real time, see our video

The long awaited premier

In less than 45 minutes I am giving my first workshop on the third paper in a three paper series that has consumed me in the last few years.  Yes, Kris, Yi and I finally have a working paper to accompany the video that we unveiled last fall.  The paper reports the formal results of the real time simulation we ran on evidence based policymaking in the audit standard setting domain with former standard setters.   Presenting it at one of the most rigorous U’s in at least the Southern Hemisphere if not the world, the University of Sydney!

The paper is so fresh that there is still a spelling error in my name!!!!

Finally, a shout out to readers in Canada,  THANK goodness for the sake of evidence informed policy making that we got a government that believes in research even if they do not always follow it.  Better than a government that thinks a census should be voluntary (da, the dictionary states that is impossible).

From beautiful Sydney, its showtime.

An updated BRIA mission statement

As my spouse pointed out, this is a way too long of a paragraph to be a mission statement.  Nonetheless, in academic terms it is about the closest you get.  I believe that the mission of BRIA was last updated in 1989 with some minor tweaks in the Hatfield years.

So without further ado:

Sponsored by the Accounting, Behavior and Organizations Section of the American Accounting Association, Behavioral Research in Accounting publishes original research about how accounting (broadly conceived) affects and is affected by individuals, organizations, and society. The primary audience is the international community of behavioral, organizational, and social researchers in accounting. Behavioral Research in Accounting seeks original empirical research (e.g., field, survey, experimental, experimental economics) in all areas of accounting. The journal also seeks to be the venue of choice for literature reviews of underlying discipline theories; methodological and methods papers; and scale validation papers that are relevant to the journal’s scope and to its readers. Behavioral Research in Accounting also encourages replications of influential behavioral articles in order to build a robust base of knowledge about the behavioral, organizational, and social aspects of accounting. The international set of editors and reviewers collectively have expertise in all the domains that the journal seeks to influence, and promises prompt and fair reviews by subject matter experts.

Now apparently my verbs and nouns do not agree and this will be corrected in due course. Otherwise, mission accomplished!!! We have a revised mission statement!

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