Issuing a Challenge to the Profession: Preparing Today’s and Tomorrow’s Educators and Researchers in Emerging Economies

Issuing a Challenge to the Profession: Preparing Today’s and Tomorrow’s Educators and Researchers in Emerging Economies

by Professor Katherine Schipper, Thomas F. Keller Professor of Accounting, Duke University, and Professor Donna Street, Mahrt Chair in Accounting, University of Dayton | August 19, 2014 | 7

Scholars in emerging economies begin their careers as accounting educators and researchers with excitement and high aspirations. They eagerly accept the challenge of educating future generations of accounting professionals in developing countries. They understand that the demand for well-trained accounting professionals is high, often exceeding the supply, and they are determined to have a positive effect—to make a difference.

The reality faced by these scholars can be discouraging. In some cases, university curricula and textbooks are dated and based on local accounting and auditing practices. In an emerging economy that has adopted international accounting and auditing standards, training in local practices is not what is needed to prepare today’s and tomorrow’s accounting professionals. Curricula are in need of wholesale overhaul. That task increasingly falls to early career scholars.

In addition, to remain relevant, these scholars are expected to publish research in international journals, where they compete with researchers from around the world, including developed countries in Europe and North America. Unfortunately, in many cases, doctoral education for scholars in emerging economies does not prepare them well for either curriculum development or research, and there are often few or no local mentors to turn to.

These scholars face research, teaching, and curriculum development demands and typically lack the opportunities to develop the skills and knowledge needed to meet those demands. Some of the scholars attending workshops offered by the International Association for Accounting Education and Research (IAAER) and funded by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), in, for example, Romania, South Africa, and Malaysia, earned doctoral degrees at universities in emerging economies (often from the universities where they are on faculty) and to a large extent they are, of necessity, “self-trained.” In the absence of support and guidance from successful researchers, many focus on replicating previously published research using local data. While they find the workshops, including feedback from experienced researchers, valuable in improving their proposals, the workshops are far from sufficient. These scholars need regular, ongoing access to and support from experienced researchers, and they need to develop a network that includes not only colleagues from their own countries but also, and importantly, successful researchers in other countries.

One obvious solution—reaching out internationally for both curriculum development support and mentorship in research—is often impracticable because of limited (or no) funding for international conferences or networking and limited or no sense of where to start to develop the knowledge, skills, and a commitment of support from an experienced scholar.

Five accounting scholars from emerging economies found the answer when the Deloitte IAAER Scholarship program was launched in February 2013. The program currently funds five Deloitte IAAER scholars from Brazil, Indonesia, Poland, Romania, and South Africa to attend IAAER events. More importantly, the Deloitte IAAER Scholarship Program provides each scholar with a mentor, a successful senior accounting educator and researcher who is committed to aiding the scholar’s professional development.

To date, the scholars have attended IAAER events in Frankfurt, Germany; Bucharest, Romania; Cergy, France; and San Antonio, US, where they experienced hands-on learning, built networks, and gained a better sense of how the accountancy profession, accounting education, and accounting scholarship are developing around the world. At these events, and in email and telephone communications between events, each scholar interacts with his/her mentor and with the other scholars, providing and receiving ongoing feedback, mutual support, and encouragement. The next meeting of the scholars will be in November 2014 at the IAAER World Congress of Accounting Educators and Researchers in Florence, Italy. The scholars will present papers, attend research and teaching sessions, and continue to expand and solidify their networks.

The Deloitte IAAER Scholarship Program also aims to narrow the divide between academics and the accountancy profession. By establishing a link between the scholars and their local Deloitte offices, the program is beginning to influence curricula. A greater connection and regular contact with real-world practice and practitioners enriches scholars’ teaching and research and helps them understand how to access resources and apply their own experience and knowledge in the classroom. The program reinforces the importance of academic-professional collaborations to develop students that are fully prepared to meet professional demands.

We believe the Deloitte IAAER Scholarship Program is an important step in addressing the pressing need to build accounting teaching and research skills in emerging economies. We participate as mentors in the program, and we are convinced that the combination of access to mentors and being part of an international network are making a significant difference for both the scholars and their colleagues in their home institutions. We believe the program will raise the teaching and research standards achievable by future accountants, contributing in the long term to improvements in accounting, auditing, and financial reporting. The initial five scholars are becoming role models for their colleagues, who will in turn be able to enhance their own curriculum development, teaching, and research skills.

We are honored to be part of the Deloitte IAAER Scholarship Program. Interacting with the scholars, and witnessing their commitment to professional development and their growth as educators and researchers is inspiring. Deloitte has set the example by funding the first scholars and encouraging links between the scholars and the firm’s local offices.

Supporting five scholars is a good beginning, but far from a solution to the problems faced by the accounting profession in developing countries. When others see the progress of the five Deloitte IAAER Scholars, we hope they will want to be involved. IAAER mentors stand ready to work with additional promising, early-career scholars in emerging economies, but more sponsors are needed. IAAER mentorship and networking benefits not only the scholars, but also their students, their universities, their local accounting professionals, and the global accounting community. The scholarship program benefits all involved—including sponsors and mentors. We challenge additional sponsors to fund additional scholarships to enable the IAAER to expand its scholarship program.

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Stella Nkomo
September 18, 2014

As the Deputy Dean for Research and Postgraduate Studies in the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences where our participant, Prof Elmar Venter, is part of the Department of Taxation, I must underscore how timely this initiative has been in terms of our goals. The University of Pretoria's vision is to be a research-intensive university with both local and international recognition. We have during the past several years been focused on increasing the research active academic staff, particularly in the Financial Sciences. Many in this field still have to pursue doctoral studies as well. Financial Sciences has traditionally (for various reasons) been a much more teaching oriented and focused on meeting professional standards for accountants, tax practitioners, auditors, etc. This opportunity is providing participants with access to scholars who will assist in gaining research skills and the potential to contribute to scholarship. Recently, the Department of Higher Education and Training as well as the National Development Plan for South Africa emphasized the need for strategies and resources to build research capacity across the academic disciplines. This project is a sterling example of what can be done to make a significant contribution to countries in emerging markets.

David Gruner
September 17, 2014

Deloitte is proud to sponsor this scholarship program. The caliber of the five scholars is second-to-none, the support from the mentors has been oustanding, and the leadership of Prof. Donna Street to get to where we are has made the program all the more rewarding. Continuing to develop and sustain a global profession and the accounting, auditing and financial reporting landscape increasingly requires a stronger appreciation for the need to connect and share experiences between emerging and established, between local and global, and between academia and practitioners.

Elmar Venter
September 13, 2014

In the past, for various reasons, Accounting academics in South Africa have not been able to contribute to the academic research literature to the same degree as their colleagues from more developed countries. The Deloitte IAAER Scholarship Program brings new hope. As one of the privileged scholars, this program has enabled me to participate in elite conferences, share ideas with emerging scholars in a position similar to my own and access mentorship from well-respected leaders. I believe that I have a responsibility to take back to South Africa all the knowledge and experience I gain through the Deloitte IAAER Scholar Program to promote a movement towards advancing Accounting research in my country. Inevitably improving the quality of our research will also help to improve the standard of future accounting professionals who one day will hold leading positions in our capital market. Thank you to Deloitte, the IAAER and the mentors for investing in the future of accounting education and research in emerging economies!

Pavel Nastase
September 5, 2014

As the Rector of the Bucharest University of Economic Studies, Romania, I am very glad that a young scholar affiliated with our university (Dr. Nadia Albu, Faculty of Accounting and Management Information Systems) has been selected for the Deloitte IAAER Scholarship Program. I believe that the program is extremely well tailored for the needs of young scholars in emerging economies, and I am grateful to the two respective organizations for building it. I also stand by the call made by Professors Schipper and Street, and supported by the IFAC, for additional sponsors of similar programs. These young scholars are the future of accounting academia and practice (including accounting students, professionals and the environment at large). A special thank you goes to the program’s mentors, who in this capacity help nurture the future generations of successful academics.

Prof. dr. Pavel Năstase, Rector of the Bucharest University of Economic Studies, Romania

Bronis?aw Micherda
September 5, 2014

Prof. Bronislaw Micherda, vice-Dean of Faculty of Finance, Headmaster of Department of Financial Accounting, Cracow University of Economics.


I consider the fact that Konrad Grabinski participated in Deloitte Scholar Program of great importance for our department and the faculty. As a direct supervisor I could observe the impact the program has made on teaching and research skills of Konrad. Already my department has benefited from this program due to two international workshops organized by Konrad at our University during which we had an opportunity to discuss our research projects with top class world accounting professors. Thanks to Konrad's activity our University became an institutional member of IAAER and our accounting scholars can utilize web resources, participate in IAAER conferences etc., meet and network with other young scholars from other countries. This has opened the gates of opportunity for international cooperation, which is one of crucial elements of academic life and academic success. One of the important aspects of this program is strong emphasis on gaining new research skills through participation in many international conferences. I hope that due to this program my department will be able to establish long-term relationships with other academic centers and international organizations. I also hope that other promising young scholars will be able to participate in similar IAAER programs.

Nadia Albu
September 4, 2014

I will start by thanking Deloitte Global and the IAAER for this tremendous opportunity to participate in the program. One and a half years into the program, all my expectations have been more than fulfilled. The issues identified above by Professors Schipper and Street are serious challenges for developing a successful accounting academic career by scholars in emerging economies. The Deloitte IAAER Scholarship program provides all the ingredients necessary to address these challenges: it sets coherent development objectives, it offers the required resources and, very importantly, gives access to an invaluable network of experienced researchers, generously committed to contribute their time and knowledge to this cause. The program instills and develops in early career academics the desire to grow professionally and personally, as well as to give back to the local environment.
Nadia Albu, Bucharest University of Economic Studies, Romania

Marianne Van Staden
August 25, 2014

When will the next group of scholars be taken on-board the Deloitte IAAER Scholarship Program, or was this a once-off initiative?
I am currently enrolled for my PhD in Auditing and I would greatly appreciate it to be part of the program.
Marianne van Staden - South Africa

 

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