Academic journal article Management Accounting Quarterly

Divergent Views among Practitioners and Educators on Forensic Accounting Education

Academic journal article Management Accounting Quarterly

Divergent Views among Practitioners and Educators on Forensic Accounting Education

Article excerpt

More than a decade ago, numerous widely publicized accounting scandals--such as those at Waste Management, Enron, WorldCom, HealthSouth, and Tyco, among others--motivated leaders in the accounting profession to encourage educators to provide forensic accounting education for accounting students. (1) Fulfilling this request has been a significant task. Very few forensic accounting pedagogical materials existed in the past because it was a new and emerging field. Further, forensic accounting encompasses a variety of fields of expertise. Perhaps the most comprehensive definition of forensic accounting, which clearly indicates that it is a confluence of many different disciplines, is:

   A multidisciplinary field that encompasses both a
   profession and an industry, where civil or criminal
   economic and financial claims, whether business
   or personal, are contested within established political
   structures, recognized and accepted social
   parameters, and well-defined legal jurisdictions,
   and informed by the theories, methods, and procedures
   from the fields of law, auditing, accounting,
   finance, economics, psychology, sociology, and
   criminology. (2)

FORENSIC ACCOUNTING EDUCATION IS ON THE RISE

Research around the early 2000s found that very few colleges and universities offered any type of forensic accounting education. While a thorough review of the literature exploring the availability of forensic accounting education is too extensive for this article, an idea of the explosive growth over the past 15 years or so can be seen from results of representative studies in Figure 1, with a brief summary of the research results provided in Table 1. (3)

Figure 1 and Table 1 show that universities worldwide have responded to the demand to offer forensic accounting education. Not only are specific individual courses now being offered, but many institutions have developed programs in forensic accounting, including undergraduate and graduate degrees, certificates, minors, and concentrations.

Employment opportunities are plentiful for accounting students with a forensic accounting education. They include public accounting, loss prevention/security, internal audit, and opportunities with federal agencies such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation Division (IRS-CID). Yet even if students never choose a forensic accounting career path, the skills they learn will make them better professionals in business whether they work as auditors, managers, or consultants. The demand for forensic accountants today remains strong and continues to grow. (4)

Given this dramatic increase in the amount of forensic accounting education offered, we explored whether forensic accounting educators and practitioners agreed or disagreed on important content or teaching techniques for this topic. Consequently, our results can be useful to educators who want to expand and possibly improve their existing forensic accounting curricula or those who are now considering offering forensic accounting education.

RESEARCH SURVEY

We surveyed 740 randomly selected educators who primarily teach forensic accounting and/or auditing and asked them to complete an online survey about forensic accounting education. We also administered the survey to 40 practitioners who were attending a forensic accounting training seminar.

We designed the survey instrument to answer the following questions:

1. How important do you consider 16 different teaching techniques in a forensic accounting course/program?

2. How important do you consider 14 specific content areas in a forensic accounting course/ program? (5)

3. (For educators only) To what degree do you cover the 14 specific content areas in your forensic accounting courses/program?

We received responses from 103 educators and 26 practitioners, providing response rates of 14% and 65%, respectively. …

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