Communication Skills and Accounting: Do Perceptions Match Reality?

By Ameen, Elsie; Bruns, Sharon M. et al. | The CPA Journal, July 2010 | Go to article overview

Communication Skills and Accounting: Do Perceptions Match Reality?


Ameen, Elsie, Bruns, Sharon M., Jackson, Cynthia, The CPA Journal


A large body of research confirms that accounting professionals and educators believe that communications skills are vital for success in the accounting profession. Over the past few decades, there have been calls for the accounting college curriculum to improve students' communication skills, and many schools have undertaken efforts to address deficient oral or written skills, with varying results. One major issue may be that the profession tends initially to attract students who believe that mathematical or technical skills are most important, including a segment of students who believe that a lack of communication skills will not hinder their progress in the profession.

Surveys of college students in 1998 and again in 2006 were conducted to measure whether accounting majors have a greater fear of oral communication than other business and nonbusiness majors, and whether this situation changed over time. The surveys also measured students' perceptions of the level of communication skills required in 24 professions, including accounting and tax preparation. The results indicate that there is a continuing lack of knowledge among students of the importance of oral and written communication in accounting, but there may be signs that students entering accounting have less apprehension toward communication than in the past.

Are Oral Communications Skills Really Important?

The importance of oral communication in accounting has been confirmed by both academic researchers and practitioners. In a review of eight studies conducted by business and education organizations - from a 1989 Big Eight white paper to a 2003 report by the International Federation of Accountants' Education Committee - skill in communicating was listed as an important proficiency for success in accounting in all eight studies (K. N. Palmer, D. E. Ziegenfuss, and R. E. Pinsker, 'International Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities of Auditors/Accountants: Evidence from Recent Competency Studies," Managerial Auditing Journal, vol. 1, no. 7, 2004).

Another study surveyed recently promoted partners about the skills they found most important in progressing from staff to senior, senior to manager, and manager to partner. Communication skills were rated as either most important or second most important at the first two promotion levels for both audit and tax, most important in achieving partner in audit, and third most important in achieving partner in tax (Cindy Blanthorne, Sak Bhamornsiri, and Robert E. Guinn, "Are Technical Skills Still Important?" The CPA Journal, March 2005). In addition, developments such as the compliance requirements of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and the move toward International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) have increased the need for accountants to communicate the implications of ever more complex issues to the public.

Students' Perceptions

Several studies have investigated student perceptions of the skills needed by accountants. In a 2004 study, researchers examined accounting and nonaccounting majors' impressions of accountants through a survey of 58 different characteristics. The results show that many students perceived accountants as merely number crunchers. Accountants generally were seen as professional but not particularly personable. They were noted as "skilled in math and tax work and attentive to detail, but were not considered particularly admirable, exciting, outgoing, versatile, or strong in leadership capabilities," following the stereotype (Steven C. Hunt, A. Anthony Falgiani, and Robert C. Intrieri, "The Nature and Origin of Students' Perceptions of Accountants," Journal of Education for Business, vol. 79, no. 3, January-February 2004).

A recent study explored the skills students believe are necessary for success in different areas of business. Accounting majors ranked math skills significantly more important for success in the accounting field than either oral communication or writing skills. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Communication Skills and Accounting: Do Perceptions Match Reality?
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.