Academic journal article Management Accounting Quarterly

Transitioning from Practice to Academia: Examining the Interest of Accountants

Academic journal article Management Accounting Quarterly

Transitioning from Practice to Academia: Examining the Interest of Accountants

Article excerpt

The increasing shortage of accounting faculty in the United States is a topic of great concern to the accounting profession and academia. For academia, there is a gulf between the demand for and supply of qualified accounting faculty that is making it difficult to staff accounting departments with academically qualified educators. (1) For practitioners, the inability of accounting departments to properly fill their vacancies threatens the profession's desire to attract larger numbers of highly educated entry-level accountants to the profession.

In 2007, IMA[R] (Institute of Management Accountants) and the Association of Government Accountants (AGA) created a joint task force that determined the accounting faculty shortage is a complex problem with multiple causes and called for further examination of the current model the profession uses to produce qualified accounting faculty. (2) Similarly, in 2008, the U.S. Treasury Department's Advisory Committee on the Auditing Profession (ACAP) called for further research to identify the causes of the shortage and determine actions to remedy it. (3) Studies by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) also projected that the shortage in full-time academically qualified faculty will reach critical levels in the near term and called for both academia and practice to take action to resolve the issue. (4) In addition, other studies have reinforced these observations and have noted the need for further investigation. (5) It has become obvious that the accounting faculty shortage poses a threat that requires additional research to more clearly identify its causes and potential solutions.

Given the likelihood of increased demand for business school education and accounting professionals, the solution to resolving the faculty shortage must focus primarily on increasing the number of qualified faculty. One promising source of future accounting faculty might be found in the pool of practicing accountants. This pool is so large that academia would need to attract only a small fraction to lessen the current and expected shortage significantly. Much activity to attract practitioners into academia has taken place already through the traditional doctoral program model.

An example of this effort includes the Accounting Doctoral Scholars Program (ADS), which provides ongoing financial support to select auditing and tax practitioners to enable them to pursue terminal degrees (the highest degree in a field of study) and transition into academic careers. The number of practitioners transitioning into academia through these existing support programs, however, falls far short of the number needed to significantly reduce the current and anticipated shortage of required faculty. In addition, these programs tend to target accounting professionals in public accounting who are in the earlier stages of their career. Yet the shortage provides career opportunities for those outside public accounting and at later career stages, so it is important to include these practitioner groups in those targeted for potential transitions to academic careers.

Recently, the American Accounting Association (AAA) and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) formed the Pathways Commission "to study the future structure of higher education for the accounting profession and develop recommendations for educational pathways to engage and retain the strongest possible community of students, academics, practitioners, and other knowledgeable leaders in the practice and study of accounting." (6) It released a report, "Charting a National Strategy for the Next Generation of Accountants," in July 2012 that makes recommendations to reverse the shortage while exploring it further. The first recommendation identifies accounting practitioners as one of the key players in the educational process. Objective 1.1 states: "Integrate professionally orientated faculty more fully into significant aspects of accounting education, programs and research. …

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