Comparative Career Performance of Accounting Professionals in Regional CPA Firms

By Siegel, Philip H.; Rigsby, John T. et al. | Journal of Business and Entrepreneurship, March 1992 | Go to article overview

Comparative Career Performance of Accounting Professionals in Regional CPA Firms


Siegel, Philip H., Rigsby, John T., Shelton, Margaret L., Journal of Business and Entrepreneurship


ABSTRACT

Studies analyzing the career progress of accounting professionals have concentrated on accountants in major international accounting firms. Few studies have analyzed accountants' career progress in regional firms. This study uses ANOVA to analyze the independent variables of bachelor's degree education, graduate degree education, internship experience, and no internship experience for their relationship with the dependent variables of professional evaluations and turnover rates of accountants employed in regional accounting firms. Results indicate that accountants holding graduate degrees and those with internship experience received significantly higher performance evaluations. Additionally, the results indicate that accountants with graduate degrees have significantly lower turnover rates.

INTRODUCTION

Traditionally, the "Big-Six" accounting firms (the major international public accounting firms) garner the bulk of research interest and public attention. Regional and smaller accounting firms are somewhat overlooked even though such firms represent a large number of accounting practices. The original "Big-Eight" firms are now condensed to six firms with the merger of Ernst & Whinney with Arthur Young & Co., and the merger of Deloitte Haskins & Sells with Touche Ross. The importance of regional firms in hiring accounting graduates and in career development for its professionals will increase as the major firms consolidate operations and decrease in overall size. Although the "Big-Six" firms audit the bulk of the SEC companies, the regional and local firms provide substantial services to non-sec and smaller companies. As the "Big-Six" firms price their services out of the range of smaller businesses, regional and local firms become an important source of accounting services. Thus, the successful career performance of accounting professionals in the regional and local firms becomes an important issue.

Regional firms have been the focus of very few prior studies. This may be true due to difficulties with data collection or lack of interest and funding in studying regional accounting firms. Be that as it may, regional accounting firms are of increasing importance in the accounting arena and merit study. This study concentrates on large regional firms from which data was available for the research project.

Research on organizational socialization typically assumes that the newcomer's subsequent adjustment to the organization is directly affected both by the newcomer's early learning experiences and by the organization's methods of socialization. Upon joining an organization, newcomers are confronted with an ambiguous or unknown organizational context and attempt to make sense of that context. The organization will continually attempt to reduce any gaps in newcomer's understanding of the organization through its socialization practices (Jones, 1983).

Processes of adult socialization have an important effect on work motives (Becker, Greer, Hughes, & Strauss, 1961; Inkels & Smith, 1974; Mortimer & Simmons, 1978; Schein, 1978). Studies of student culture and professional socialization have been conducted in medicine (Becker et al., 1961) and in law. Typically, students are used as a surrogate for another population, as was true of Becker's study. Accounting research on socialization issues has used data collected from adult populations rather than surrogate student populations. However, accounting academicians have opted to focus on the negative aspects of organizational socialization such as the problematic nature of conflict, job dissatisfaction, alienation and turnover (Rhode, Sorensen, & Lawler, 1977; Sorensen, Rhode, & Lawler, 1973; Sorensen, Rhode, Lawler, & Sorensen, 1974).

The orientation of previous accounting studies possibly has been too limited. Why do so many top accounting graduates decide initially on employment with the large international accounting firms, but eventually establish their careers in public accounting with smaller firms? …

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