Musings on Accounting Research by Steve
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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!

From “down under”

I am spending part of my sabbatical on a whistle tour of New Zealand and Australian universities. This week is my first visit to New Zealand at Massey University! Have a great schedule with faculty and doctoral students. As they are one uni with three geographically distinct campuses, Albany ( near Auckland), Palmerston North, and Wellington they are experts in running seminars and workshop by video hookup.

Lipe wins Notable Lifetime Contribution to BAR Award

Lipe and Salterio – together again! Last year it was my great honour to receive the ABO Section’s Lifetime Notable Achievement Award. This year it was the turn of my co-author and informal dissertation supervisor. Yes indeed, the award recipient this year was presented to Professor Marlys Lipe, currently at the Moore School at University of South Carolina!!

Marlys gave an inspiring acceptance speech that highlighted her perseverance under adversity in the early years of her post-Chicago PHD days while at Michigan highlighting the actions of others reaching out to her during those times that laid the basis for her career! The nomination noted that she is a highly regarded scholar but that she also gave back to the research academy by her extensive service, especially during her nine years as a TAR Editor where she helped guide many young researchers’ dissertations to publication.

I personally appreciate Marlys for her acceptance of my invite to co-author work on the Balanced Scorecard at a time where I seemed destined to not publish ever in the American 3! Thanks to Marlys for your guidance both during my “rough and tumble” dissertation years ( can you imagine what supervising me must have been like?) and then three years later to take me on again as a co-author!

The decision was not “fair”

I must say that I was a bit surprised to get an appeal of a BRIA decision based on the millennials battle cry of “unfairness”!  As a practicing undergraduate teacher, the last five or six years have been full of undergrads arguments that it they do not get the mark they “expect” “want” or “deserve” that I or someone must be “unfair”!  After all this is the generation that received medals just for turning up to play organised sports, even if they never went on the field when invited to!  Do not get me wrong, this is not their fault, they are only responding to the signals we have given them!

I thought it would be a few more years before these millenial folks, who overall are delightful and who are only reacting to the environment they have been brought up in, would turn up with PhD’s in hand.  But I see it is not so!

Folks, just because your research was not accepted does not mean there are grounds for an appeal. There has to be a substantive reason, for example evidence of a biased or ignorant or otherwise inappropriate reviewer, in order to launch an appeal!  

My students tell me I am one of the dinosaur instructors who does not respond to the “fairness” argument.  My response is that dinosaurs would still be with us if the fairness argument worked!

Studying regulation 2

Continuing the interpretation of the null discussion! Last day was interpreting the null when one found a reaction to a disclosure. Today, the opposite.

Case 2. Managers do not react in real operations to a information disclosure that they knew but is new information to the market. You predict managers would react to the disclosure, but you found they did not. In other words you cannot reject the null. Beyond the danger of interpreting any null result, let’s ensure we understand the null hypothesis fully.

Embedded in the null is that the disclosure does not affect managers decisions. But there is more! Also embedded in the null is that the required disclosure was too vague, too hidden, too new to affect managers decisions. In other words the regulation did not really focus attention of either third parties or the managers themselves of the fact new information to the market is being disclosed.

That is, all disclosures are not created equal ( I thought we were well beyond the naive EMH world where any public disclosure of information no matter how vague and obscure must affect decisions due to market magic!). Hence another interpretation of the null is that nothing happened due to too weak of a disclosure regulation so that managers feel no difference in accountability due to the vague or hidden disclosure.

In both cases the policy prescriptions differ depending how you interpret the null. In last post’s Case 1, misunderstanding the null could cause you to recommend disclosure must happen or managers would not use the new information. Maybe they would not, but maybe they would. In Case 2, you could conclude disclosure is not effective, so get rid of the disclosure. But you cannot rule out that the regulatory invention was too weak , vague or unclear in it current form but higher quality disclosure could change managers actions. Hence, the another solution is more effective disclosure. The opposite of the first null conclusion! And again as in case 1, the researcher cannot tell the difference!

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