The (Un)success of Accountancy Professionalization: Insights From Lay Society

Posted: 6 May 2022

See all articles by Fernanda Leão

Fernanda Leão

Instituto Politécnico do Porto – Escola Superior de Tecnologia e Gestão

Delfina Gomes

University of Minho - School of Economics and Management

Date Written: April 10, 2022

Abstract

Concerns have been expressed in the literature about the success of the accountancy professional project in its social dimension. Using data collected through a questionnaire survey administered to a Portuguese community sample (N=727), this study aims to provide insights to better understand the accountancy professionalization performance at the macro level. The study looks at how lay society in accounting posits accountants in a set of social judgment variables (status, competition, competence, and warmth), and tests the influence of these variables on the social image of accountants by using structural equation modeling. The results indicate that status, competition, competence, and warmth are all important factors in the construction of the social image of modern accountants. It is revealed that accountants are perceived as modestly warm, highly competent, and as a cooperative group posited in the lower middle class. The findings suggest the failure of the professional project in enhancing the perceived social standing of accountants and reinforce the view of limited social mobility in the accountancy profession. The identified high level of competence is suggested to have weak social power in the case of accountancy. The implication of this finding is discussed for future research. The study enriches the literature with an interdisciplinary approach by adopting a theoretical background from social psychology and with an analysis based on data from lay society, which are both relevant to illuminate the social dimension of accountancy professionalization and its success in a macro perspective.

Keywords: Accountant stereotype, Social standing of accountants, professionalization, competence

JEL Classification: M41

Suggested Citation

Leão, Fernanda and Gomes, Delfina, The (Un)success of Accountancy Professionalization: Insights From Lay Society (April 10, 2022). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4083449

Fernanda Leão

Instituto Politécnico do Porto – Escola Superior de Tecnologia e Gestão ( email )

Portugal

Delfina Gomes (Contact Author)

University of Minho - School of Economics and Management ( email )

Gualtar
Braga, 4710
Portugal

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