Academic journal article Academy of Accounting and Financial Studies Journal

The Call for Increasing the International Component of Accounting Education

Academic journal article Academy of Accounting and Financial Studies Journal

The Call for Increasing the International Component of Accounting Education

Article excerpt


A multitude of changes have taken place in the accounting profession in recent years. Information technology is replacing many of the traditional duties of accounting, while increasingly complex business transactions are giving rise to new responsibilities for accountants and auditors. Global economic integration, the transnational activities of multinational corporations, and the convergence of financial reporting standards are internationalizing the accounting profession. With this internationalization comes an increased demand for intelligent, well-educated, highly versatile accountants and auditors that can quickly adjust to the dynamics of today's modern global business environment. Understanding of current international issues is critical to the future success of accounting students (Ashcroft et al., 2008; Smith 2008; and Smith et al. 2008).

During the 1990s the number of accounting graduates in the U.S. decreased. As a result, for a number of years the accounting profession experienced a shortage of capable graduates. The worldwide recession, starting in 2008, alleviated the shortage, at least in the short term. However, the gap between supply and demand is not just a game of numbers. Many in the profession feel that accounting education is not producing the quality of graduates that today's businesses demand. Observations of this problem were noted by Albrecht and Sack in their 2000 landmark study:

"A growing gap exists between what accountants do and what accounting educators teach....Accountants who remain narrowly educated will find it more difficult to compete in an expanding profession..." (Bedford Report, 1986, as cited in Albrecht and Sack, 2000, p. 2).

"In too many respects, accounting education is being delivered the same way today as it was 20 or 30 years ago" (Albrecht and Sack, 2000, p. 2).

"In the best case--the number of students majoring in accounting is down. In the worst case, both the quantity and quality of students electing to major in accounting have decreased" (Albrecht and Sack 2000, p. 23).

The purpose of this study is examine the call for accounting curricula to increase its coverage of international issues, evaluate future accountants' knowledge of international accounting issues, and consider the potential benefits resulting from including international accounting in the accounting curriculum. Due to the everchanging nature of modern business and the worldwide movement towards global accounting standards, U.S. accounting programs will likely benefit by broadening their curricula to include more international topics. This study supports the internationalization of the U.S. accounting curriculum since such a shift will enhance the capabilities of accounting graduates and may attract a larger, more diversified pool of students, including non-residents, a demographic group that has traditionally been smaller in accounting than in other functional business areas.


Recent decades have seen a steady increase in the number of business firms providing products and services to customers around the world. Exhibit 1 shows a model of information flows mediated by the various border crossings inherent in global operations. The complexity associated with multinational operations results from subsidiary operations in business settings that may differ substantially from the parent, thereby resulting in a complex operating, reporting, and information environment. Business firms engaged in international operations carry on business in a more complex environment than strictly domestic firms (Runyan and Smith, 2007). The movement toward global accounting standards, i.e., the IFRSs, will help alleviate some of this complexity, at least for accounting and financial reporting. In addition, use of IFRSs will facilitate efficiency in the global capital markets, including those in developing countries (Hunter and Smith, 2008). …

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