Academic journal article Global Perspectives on Accounting Education

Sustained Research Productivity in Accounting: A Study of the Senior Cohort

Academic journal article Global Perspectives on Accounting Education

Sustained Research Productivity in Accounting: A Study of the Senior Cohort

Article excerpt


Many studies have explored the publication productivity of accounting faculty. However, since recently graduated faculty publishes most research, these studies have failed to provide an adequate picture of the activity of more senior faculty. This paper explores the research of the older cohort of accounting academics. Using the population of US academics with doctoral degrees granted before 1977, this study shows that sustained productivity is associated with the institutional status of the degree granting school and the institutional status of the current employing school. In addition, continued scholarly work is related to the degree of early publishing the senior faculty person has done. This paper also explores the influence of faculty members' gender, interest area and temporal cohort. Implications for managing faculty resources are drawn.

Key words: Research productivity, accounting faculty, senior faculty

Data availability: Data are available upon request from the author


In the last few years, the American Accounting Association has problematized the issue of faculty development. Although the idea of faculty development is subject to many alternative definitions, all renditions share the theme of attempting to enhance the continued productivity of accounting academics. Unfortunately, such efforts will be limited by the lack of systematic data of existing productivity levels over the careers of accounting faculty.

Despite calls for increased emphasis on teaching (see Accounting Education Change Commission, 1990) and suggestions that the definition of scholarship be broadened (Boyer, 1990), research is likely to continue to be a primary consideration in performance evaluation (see Campbell et al., 1983; Cargile and Bublitz, 1986). Research productivity of faculty is also likely to continue as an important element of institutional accreditation (Ingram and Peterson, 1991). Accordingly, research productivity represents a central outcome of interest in a study of senior faculty.

This paper addresses one part of the faculty development concern. It provides evidence on the differential ability of accounting faculty to sustain a career of scholarship. By examining the factors associated with research productivity over the life course, conclusions pertaining to the direction of development projects may be possible.

Turning research attention to a broader span of the academic's career is a means of focusing upon the possibility of the "burned out" faculty person. For present purposes, an individual who has abandoned efforts at scholarly work may be thought of as realizing less of the classic tripartite mission of the academy (teaching, research, and service) than would be ideal. The failure to do research after specific training in such can be considered a broader loss to the community since published research has the potential of reaching a wider audience than does teaching or service.

Changes in research productivity may also reflect the institutional organization of the academy. The tenure system creates sizable incentives to do research in the first few years of the individual's career. Subsequent years are more marked by the expectation that the individual will take responsibility for the management of the academic department and the university. These years are often associated with a declining opportunity and incentive to continue research efforts.

This paper explores the effects of institutional and individual antecedents upon the publication productivity of accounting academics. In the first category, the characteristics of doctoral programs and appointment schools are considered as effects on publication productivity. The attention on institutional antecedents reflects research in other academic disciplines that suggests that systematic explanation can be found in such differences (Bayer and Folger, 1966; O'Brecht et al. …

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