Academic journal article Management Accounting Quarterly

Maintaining Professional Interaction and Relevant Practical Experience

Academic journal article Management Accounting Quarterly

Maintaining Professional Interaction and Relevant Practical Experience

Article excerpt

SEVERAL KEY ELEMENTS GO INTO ESTABLISHING A SUCCESSFUL FACULTY INTERNSHIP PROGRAM AND ENSURING ITS RELEVANCE AND SUCCESS FOR THE LONG TERM.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business's (AACSB) new Accounting Accreditation Standards require that both professional interaction and relevant practical experience be demonstrated by faculty in accounting programs seeking to gain (or continue) AACSB accounting accreditation. This article discusses the need for a formal program to encourage and document faculty professional interaction activities. Our objective is to encourage and assist accounting departments and their external stakeholders to establish similar programs as a means of improving accounting education.

In recent years, business education has come under fire for not adapting quickly enough to the dynamic business environment for which their graduates are being prepared. Graduates are said to lack the "practical skills needed" to function in the real world. Fault has been laid at the feet of (1) outdated business school curricula, (2) irrelevant faculty research, (3) old-fashioned pedagogy, and (4) faculty skills that are not aligned with the rapidly changing needs of business.1

Accounting programs have not escaped criticism. Declining enrollments combined with the changing needs of employers have prompted serious warnings by multiple professional organizations that accounting education needs to keep up with the times. One study designed to foster change, Accounting Education: Charting the Course through a Perilous Future, sponsored by four major accounting groups (the Institute of Management Accountants, American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, American Accounting Association, and the then Big 5 accounting firms), stated that it is now time for accounting education to transform itself, and failure to do so "could prove fatal."2 One of several problems noted with accounting education is that accounting faculty are often isolated from business-school peers and business professionals. This results in faculty who are "out of touch with market and competitive expectations." 3 The study's authors, Steve W. Albrecht and Albert J. Sack, also stress the common theme that accounting faculty must stay engaged with the fast-paced, ever-changing world of business in some form. Their recommendations include consulting engagements or faculty internships.

AACSB International (the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business) has also been an instrument of change within the education environment. A Faculty Leadership Task Force was formed in spring 1995 and charged with (1) identifying the issues and problems that keep faculty members from providing leadership for changes in management education, (2) outlining alternate strategies and tactics to overcome these problems, and (3) identifying specific actions that facilitate each of these strategies. According to the task force, the primary problem leading to management education's failure to keep up with the business world is that faculty skills are not aligned with the rapidly changing needs of business.4 The first of four recommended solutions to this problem was to develop closer links to business and technology, with faculty internships being a primary means of carrying out this solution. The task force felt that faculty internships would assist faculty members in gaining a better understanding of the operating environment and the issues that practitioners face.

The June 23, 2003, revision of the AACSB standards for accounting accreditation reflects this focus on the need for closer faculty links with practitioners. Standard 36 requires that "all accounting academic unit faculty must demonstrate sufficient ongoing professional interaction to support their role in achieving the accounting academic unit's mission and each program's educational objectives." It goes on to require that "the accounting faculty as a whole maintains a portfolio of relevant practical experience in business and accounting consistent with the accounting academic unit's mission and each program's educational objectives" (emphasis added). …

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