Academic journal article International Education Studies

Examining Students' Feelings and Perceptions of Accounting Profession in a Developing Country: The Role of Gender and Student Category

Academic journal article International Education Studies

Examining Students' Feelings and Perceptions of Accounting Profession in a Developing Country: The Role of Gender and Student Category

Article excerpt


This paper examines the preconceived notions accounting students in Ghana have about the accounting profession and whether these perceptions are influenced by gender and student category (graduates and undergraduates). This study was a cross-sectional survey of 516 undergraduate and 78 graduate accounting students from a public university in Ghana. A self-administered structured questionnaire was developed to collect primary data. Data were analysed using SPSS 16.0.

The results of this study show that, generally, both undergraduate and graduate accounting students have positive perceptions about accounting profession, contrary to most existing literature. Our findings indicate that despite the generally negative perception held by the public about accountants' behaviour, accounting students in Ghana do not share the same perception with the public. This study also found that gender influences the perception of both graduate and undergraduate accounting students, and few significant differences existed between graduate and undergraduate accounting students' perception of the profession. This research contributes to the academic debate surrounding the concerns of the future of accounting profession and its implications for contemporary accounting education in developing countries. It also provides knowledge to accounting educators in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) regarding areas of career orientation and training required to positively influence the perception of future accounting professionals in SSA and Ghana in particular. The limitations of this study are discussed to provide directions for future research.

Keywords: accounting, profession, career, accountants, job outcomes, job reputation

1. Introduction

The accounting profession globally has gone through image/reputation crisis over the past three decades. Globalisation presents many challenges to the accounting profession in ensuring global accounting standards, certification and ethics in the accounting profession (Ball, 2006; Chakrabarty, 2011). Apart from that, corporate scandals that occurred with global companies in the US and Europe such as Enron, Stanford International Bank, Satyam Computer Services, WorldCom, Parmalatas well as other local companies have posed a big challenge to the accounting profession's integrity, professional conducts and responsibility to the public.

These events have cast negative perceptions and stereotypes on the image and integrity of the accounting profession globally from the general public (Byrne & Willis, 2005). An Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) report (ACCA, Closing the Value Gap, 2012), found that as the role of the accountant has evolved in line with changing regulation and business law, a perception gap between the profession and the public when it comes to the issue of trust has emerged. The report found a 25% trust discrepancy indicating the gap between how the industry perceives itself and the level of trust the public actually holds for accountants. Moreover, 85% of the accountants agreed that accountancy as a profession should be doing more to improve its overall image.

Several studies have found that accountants were stereotyped as being conformist, cold, submissive and lacking social skills (e.g., Hunt, Anthony, & Intrieri, 2004; Parker, 2000; Siegel, 2000). According to Parker (2000, p. 50), the "common stereotype of the accountant-usually portrayed as male-introverted, cautious, methodical, systematic, antisocial and, above all, boring". Siegel (2000) also reported that first-line operating and management staff often views the accountant as a bean counter and corporate policeman. Hunt et al. (2004) maintain that, even though accountants were widely seen as being skilled in maths and tax work and attentive to detail, they were not considered particularly admirable, exciting, or strong in leadership capabilities.

Generally, perceptions of students eventually form part of their beliefs which in turn can influence their career choices (Hunt et al. …

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