State Board Report

July 2012

The accounting profession is killing itself in the way it does research, Dr. Bruce K. Behn, chair of the Pathways Commission, told the Eastern and Western Regional Meetings. He explained that the research and practice arms in accounting are 180 degrees apart. In other professions, such as medicine and law, academics and practitioners are working to solve the same problems. He estimated that, in the last 30 years of accounting research, there was not one piece of academic research that changed accounting practice.

The Pathways Commission's report is due out at the end of July. Its first recommendation, which Dr. Behn said is critical to accounting, is to build a learned profession. All the accounting professors are trying to get published in four academic journals, and it takes, on average, three years to be published. In some cases, publishing an article in the faculty journal has resulted in points being subtracted from the academic's rating. Dr. Behn observed that in the major universities, teaching is not valued in the same way that research is. There are some exceptions, like the University of Tennessee, where he teaches, that does have three tracks for making promotions – lecturer, professional track and tenure track.

Encouraging students to be interested in accounting earlier in their academic career is another recommendation the Pathways Commission is supporting. Dr. Behn suggested advanced placement courses in accounting to bring students in earlier.

The forthcoming report's most important recommendation is the creation of an organization to get all recommendations implemented, Dr. Behn stated. Past education studies' recommendations have failed because they did not have the mechanism to transition accounting change efforts from episodic events to a continuous, sustainable process. "There will be a Pathways 2 to make sure this stuff happens," Dr. Behn stated. NASBA Vice Chair Gaylen Hansen asked that NASBA be involved in this continuation of the Pathways Commission's work.

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