Seeds of Innovation in Accounting Scholarship
26 Pages Posted: 22 Nov 2011
Date Written: November 21, 2011
Hopwood and other senior scholars have suggested that accounting scholarship has become stagnant and lacks the spirit of innovation that previously motivated the discipline. In this essay I build on these authors’ assertions to address two questions. First, what causal forces account for this state of affairs? Second, given such forces, what can be done to improve matters? I argue that intellectual stagnancy in accounting scholarship is manifested in (1) excessively derivative research, (2) overemphasis on “career management” among junior scholars, (3) limited scholarly discussion and debate, and (4) too much emphasis on accounting standard setters to define our research and teaching agendas. The causal forces driving the evolution of accounting scholarship over the past quarter century include: (1) large real salary increases for assistant professors in accounting, (2) changes in graduate business education that have de-emphasized doctoral education, (3) a relative shift towards financial reporting in accounting research and teaching, and (4) changes in the way research quality is assessed. Changes in accounting scholarship thus have built cumulatively from individual actions that are locally optimal but have been associated with unintended and unforeseeable cumulative consequences for the discipline as a whole. A final section summarizes several suggestions put forth at a May 2011 strategic retreat for what the American Accounting Association (AAA) can do to improve this state of affairs over the long run.
Keywords: innovation, accounting research
JEL Classification: M40, B29
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation