Developing a Written Research Productivity Policy for a Department of Accounting: A Case Study

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INTRODUCTION

The purpose of this paper is to report on experiences at the University of Wyoming, Department of Accounting in developing a written research productivity policy for use in tenure and promotion (hereafter T&P) and workload assignment decisions. We use the term research to describe faculty activities that lead to published or other written, widely-disseminated, creative works (e.g., journal articles, books, conference papers, cases, and the like) as compared to the term scholarship that might encompass a broader array of outputs. Presently, the focus of our university and college administration is on increasing the output of graduates with Ph.D.s. Although our department does not offer the doctoral degree, we are impacted by this effort in that there is a corresponding push across the institution to increase the output of basic research, hence the fact we do not consider other forms of scholarship in this paper. We discuss motivations for developing our policy document, the steps we undertook in the process, and outcomes. We hope that faculty and administrators can use our experiences, research findings, and the model we present in this paper as a starting point to develop their own policies consistent with their specific departments' missions. In addition, we suggest how use of such policies, including journal lists, may support proposed AACSB recommendations to align faculty intellectual contributions with institutional missions.

Academic institutions should conduct the T&P process with integrity, clarity, and fairness given that recruitment and retention of accounting faculty is critical to the success and mission of AACSB-accredited business schools (Johnson et al., 2002). Unfortunately, tenure-track faculty members do not generally perceive that tenure standards are clear, benchmarked, or well-communicated, which hinders perceptions of fairness. For example, the Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education, a research project at Harvard University's Graduate School of Education, recently surveyed 6,773 tenure-track faculty members at 77 institutions. The investigators asked junior faculty members about 16 institutional policies and practices designed to help them succeed. On average, none were rated even "fairly effective" and junior faculty had the least understanding about tenure standards (1) This view is consistent with that expressed by our own junior, and some senior, faculty. Given that the tenure and promotion process is one of the most important and stressful endeavors in the careers of most accounting academicians (Reinstein and Calderon, 2006; Johnson et al., 2002), clarity is important. Although most business schools evaluate accounting faculty based on the triad of teaching, scholarship, and service, recent anecdotal and empirical evidence suggests that more schools are putting added emphasis on the research component (Glover et al., 2006; Everett et al., 2003), with concomitant increasing pressures to publish in "top" academic journals (Chow et al., 2007). Some suggest that AACSB standards for academically qualified faculty are increasingly more rigorous. Even if this is not the case, it is clear that more documentation of policies and standards for scholarly activities are necessary to evaluate performance under AACSB's mission-based accreditation standards.

We organize the remainder of this paper as follows. The following section discusses our motivations for developing the written standard and the actions taken. Section three reviews literature related to contextual issues in faculty T&P evaluation of accounting research for each motivation. The fourth section discusses some potential impacts of AACSB International's Impact of Research Task Force for developing a research policy. Outcomes of the policy appear in section five. Finally, conclusions and recommendations appear in last section.

MOTIVATIONS AND ACTIONS TO DEVELOP A WRITTEN RESEARCH POLICY

Several factors motivated us to begin in 2005 to develop written research standards for our department of accounting, part of an AACSB-accredited college of business. …