The Schism in Accounting

By Robert Bloom; H. G. Heymann et al. | Go to book overview

8
Conclusion

This book has focused on the causes and effects of the schism in accounting. The division between academics and practitioners may be attributed to the different environments of the two. Academics function in a stable environment where change is slow to occur. Practitioners function in a dynamic and rapidly changing environment. If suppliers of education (academics) teach what they themselves learned and what they know, then progress will be slow. If, on the other hand, academics work with practitioners to determine the needs of accounting students and society as a whole, and try to learn new ideas and teach new concepts and approaches, then change can occur more rapidly and progress will be more expeditious.

The history of the schism is a long one. From the early 1900s, academic and practicing accountants have had difficulty understanding each other's objectives and problems. The two groups have had considerable difficulty communicating. Thus, each sector developed separate organizations and publications. This may be partially due to the advanced degrees and esoteric research in academia, but much of it can be attributed to the lack of practical experience in many academics. Recent practical experience would help academics appreciate the dynamic problems that practitioners face.

The conflict between academics and practitioners does, however, have its benefits. The schism produces creative tensions between academics and practitioners, which in turn has led to changes to conform to a dynamically changing environment. If academics were to change their course offerings as often as practice demanded, there would be a higher risk of providing a faddish education for the short-term benefit of prospective employers. Academics appreciate the need to focus on long-term benefits and the common good. At some point, however, the benefits to prospective employers and to the common good converge, and it is at this point that a meeting between academics and practitioners might prove most beneficial.

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