Moving Academic Management Accounting Research Closer to Practice: A View from US and Australian Professional Accounting Bodies

45 Pages Posted: 14 Aug 2015 Last revised: 19 Nov 2015

See all articles by Basil P. Tucker

Basil P. Tucker

University of South Australia

Raef A. Lawson

Institute of Management Accountants

Date Written: August 13, 2015

Abstract

Concerns about the extent to which academic research informs practice have been repeatedly voiced in the management accounting literature. How widespread this apparent concern is has not been extensively investigated, and the views of non-academics have, however, rarely been canvassed in this conversation. This paper provides empirically based insights how the research-practice gap is seen from a practice frame of reference, and the ways in which such perceptions vary across two different geographical contexts. Based on a questionnaire survey and follow-up interviews with a sample of senior representatives of principal US and Australian professional accounting bodies, our findings largely support the observations of academic commentators on this subject who conclude that the extent to which academic research informs practice is limited, despite the potential for academic research findings to make a significant contribution to management accounting practice. We find similarities as well as differences in the major obstacles to closer engagement in the US and Australia. This comparison, however, leads us to offer an explanation of the divide between academic research and practice framed in terms of Rational Choice Theory, in which engagement is dependent upon the costs and benefits academics perceive in adopting a greater practice orientation in their research efforts. Our study suggests that academic and practical relevance is not necessarily mutually exclusive, and that ‘bridging the research-practice gap’ necessitates demonstrating the value of practice-useful academic research. Consistent with Rational Choice Theory, we call for management accounting researchers to extend the bounds of their rationality by broadening their awareness of and interest in engagement with practice.

Keywords: academic research, research-practice gap, rigor-relevance, engagement

JEL Classification: M41

Suggested Citation

Tucker, Basil P. and Lawson, Raef A., Moving Academic Management Accounting Research Closer to Practice: A View from US and Australian Professional Accounting Bodies (August 13, 2015). AAA 2016 Management Accounting Section (MAS) Meeting Paper. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2644008 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2644008

Basil P. Tucker (Contact Author)

University of South Australia ( email )

37-44 North Terrace
Adelaide SA 5000, South Australia 5001
Australia

Raef A. Lawson

Institute of Management Accountants ( email )

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

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