Academic journal article Accounting Historians Journal

Making Accounting Historians

Academic journal article Accounting Historians Journal

Making Accounting Historians

Article excerpt

Abstract: This paper addresses the question of how accounting educators can "make" accounting historians or, more precisely, how educators can assist in fostering the development of historically aware accounting academics and practitioners. Various approaches to accounting history education are outlined, situated within the context of efforts to boost the membership of the community of accounting history scholars, redress deficiencies in accounting education, and engender the development of competent and broadly educated practicing professionals. The contributions and benefits of incorporating accounting history into accounting programs are overviewed, including an outline of past and contemporary examples of applications of accounting history in educational practice. A case study of the design and modeling of a graduate course in accounting history is then discussed and is offered as a prototype for use or adaptation by accounting educators interested in harnessing the potential of studies in accounting history to improve student learning experiences and learning outcomes.

INTRODUCTION

A brief overview of the table of contents in successive issues of the most notable journals publishing studies of accounting's past, such as the Accounting Historians Journal, Accounting History, and Accounting, Business & Financial History, reveals something of the numbers of participants in, and extent of, the accounting history community, given the frequent recurrence of a relatively select few authors. An understanding of the profiles and publishing histories of these academics indicates that the accounting history community is currently composed of a largely mature faculty and these scholars "periodically express concerns about the ageing" of their community [Guthrie and Parker, 2006, p. 8]. While Carnegie and Rodrigues [2007] and Guthrie and Parker [2006] provide evidence that accounting historians comprise a strong and flourishing group on a global basis, Fleischman and Radcliffe [2005, p. 85] characterize the U.S. segment of this community as experiencing "precipitous decline" [see also, Radcliffe, 2006]. Nevertheless, all of these commentators agree that attracting new, younger faculty to the community is a priority, and effort needs to be devoted to developing mechanisms to encourage and support the next and future generations of accounting history scholars. One means for doing so is through the work of various accounting history societies [Previts et al., 1990; Guthrie and Parker, 2006; Carnegie and Rodrigues, 2007], while another complementary avenue for encouraging interest in accounting history and the continued proliferation of historical accounting research, is through accounting history education.

In addition to bringing further academics into the fold, accounting history education has the potential to provide a range of other benefits. These benefits include promising opportunities for redressing deficiencies in accounting education programs in relation to content mastery, development of generic skills, and the quality of student learning experiences. More positively, opportunities exist for producing more well-rounded, informed, and critically aware accounting practitioners who are instilled with a sense of the importance and relevance of the history of their discipline to contemporary practice. In addressing these priorities, and noting Previts et al.'s [1990, p. 3] concern that there is a paucity of information about the place of accounting history within accounting pedagogy and "instruction in accounting history" and the more recent observation that there remain genuine weaknesses in "integrating accounting history into the curriculum" [Richardson, 2008, p. 268], the current paper provides a review of accounting history in accounting education and a discussion and modeling of the design of a graduate course (1) in accounting history.

The remainder of this paper is presented in three sections. …

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