Focusing Accounting Curricula on Students’ Long-Run Careers: Recommendations for an Integrated Competency-Based Framework for Accounting Education

53 Pages Posted: 19 Oct 2013 Last revised: 5 May 2014

See all articles by Raef A. Lawson

Raef A. Lawson

Institute of Management Accountants

Edward Blocher

University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School

Peter C. Brewer

Miami University of Ohio - Department of Accountancy

Gary Cokins

Analytics-Based Performance Management LLC; Institute of Management Accountants (IMA)

James Sorensen

University of Denver - School of Accountancy

David E. Stout

Youngstown State University - Department of Accounting and Finance

Gary L. Sundem

University of Washington - Department of Accounting

Susan K. Wolcott

WolcottLynch

Marc J. F. Wouters

Karlsruhe Institute of Technology

Date Written: October 18, 2013

Abstract

Professional accounting organizations, accrediting bodies, and accounting educators have invested substantial effort defining entry-level accounting and broad management competencies for accounting students, particularly those interested in a career in public accounting. Much less attention has been given to explicitly defining the competencies accounting students — all accounting students — need for their long-run careers, clearly distinguishing these competencies from the determinants of entry-level demands, and helping to develop these long-run competencies within the formal accounting curriculum. In 2010 the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) and the Management Accounting Section (MAS) of the American Accounting Association (AAA) formed a Task Force to address these competency issues and to make curriculum-related recommendations for all accounting majors.

This paper contains the initial completed report of the Task Force and is responsive to the recent call to “connect the accounting body of knowledge to a map of competencies…” and to create “…curricular models for the future” (Pathways Commission 2012, 37, 75). The paper provides a comprehensive review of the academic and professional literatures in three areas: (1) the scope or focus of accounting education; (2) the value proposition for accounting (i.e., specification as to how accountants today, working in a variety of settings, add organizational value); and (3) the importance of competency integration to the value proposition of accounting. These reviews lead to four recommendations regarding accounting curricula. First, accounting education should be reoriented to include a greater focus on a curriculum oriented toward long-term career demands. Second, the breadth of accounting education should be broadened to include a wide array of organizational settings including, but not limited to, public accounting/auditing. Third, the educational objectives of accounting curricula today should reflect how accountants add organizational value. Fourth, these objectives (represented as knowledge, skills and abilities) should emerge and be developed as integrated competencies. These recommendations lead operationally to the competency-based educational Framework presented in this paper.

This Framework is general in the sense that it is meant to apply to a wide variety of career paths and options, including but not limited to public accounting. The paper concludes with a call to accountants in all functional areas to provide additional inputs and refinements of the general competency Framework espoused in this paper and with an appeal for an assessment of the proposed educational Framework. In two follow-up papers, the Task Force offers (1) specific curricular recommendations regarding the role of management accounting (MA) in implementing the Framework, and (2) guidance for the development of student cognitive skills in the MA portion of the accounting curriculum (IMA-MAS Curriculum Task Force 2013a, 2013b).

Keywords: professional competencies, curriculum recommendations, framework for accounting education, accounting curricula, long-term career requirements, Pathways Commission

JEL Classification: A20

Suggested Citation

Lawson, Raef A. and Blocher, Edward A. and Brewer, Peter C. and Cokins, Gary and Sorensen, James and Stout, David E. and Sundem, Gary L. and Wolcott, Susan K. and Wouters, Marc J. F., Focusing Accounting Curricula on Students’ Long-Run Careers: Recommendations for an Integrated Competency-Based Framework for Accounting Education (October 18, 2013). UNC Kenan-Flagler Research Paper No. 2342306. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2342306 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2342306

Raef A. Lawson (Contact Author)

Institute of Management Accountants ( email )

10 Paragon Drive
Montvale, NJ 07645-1760
United States
2014741532 (Phone)
2014741603 (Fax)

Edward A. Blocher

University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School ( email )

McColl Building
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3490
United States
919-962-3200 (Phone)
919-962-4727 (Fax)

Peter C. Brewer

Miami University of Ohio - Department of Accountancy ( email )

310 Laws Hall
Oxford, OH 45056-1675
United States
513-529-6271 (Phone)
513-529-4740 (Fax)

Gary Cokins

Analytics-Based Performance Management LLC ( email )

United States

Institute of Management Accountants (IMA) ( email )

10 Paragon Drive
Montvale, NJ 07645-1760
United States

James Sorensen

University of Denver - School of Accountancy ( email )

2101 South University
Boulevard, Suite 355
Denver, CO 80208-8921
United States

David E. Stout

Youngstown State University - Department of Accounting and Finance ( email )

Youngstown, OH 44555
United States
330-941-3509 (Phone)

Gary L. Sundem

University of Washington - Department of Accounting ( email )

224 Mackenzie Hall, Box 353200
Seattle, WA 98195-3200
United States

Susan K. Wolcott

WolcottLynch ( email )

605 175th Place NE
Bellevue, WA 98008
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.WolcottLynch.com

Marc J. F. Wouters

Karlsruhe Institute of Technology ( email )

Kaiserstraße 12
Karlsruhe, Baden Württemberg 76131
Germany

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