How_Can_Accounting_Researchers.pdf - Accounting Horizons Vol 26 No 4 2012 pp 851–870 American Accounting Association DOI 10.2308/acch-10311 COMMENTARY

How_Can_Accounting_Researchers.pdf - Accounting Horizons...

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Accounting Horizons American Accounting Association Vol. 26, No. 4 DOI: 10.2308/acch-10311 2012 pp. 851–870 COMMENTARY How Can Accounting Researchers Become More Innovative? Sudipta Basu SYNOPSIS: This essay is based on a presentation at the American Accounting Association Strategy Retreat in May 2011 on the assertion ‘‘ Accounting research as of 2011 is stagnant and lacking in significant innovation that introduces fresh ideas and insights into our scholarly discipline. ’’ It poses the question ‘‘ How can accounting researchers become more innovative? ’’ and discusses why accounting researchers may have become less innovative. It also outlines some changes in incentive structures and editorial processes needed to achieve greater innovation in accounting research. Keywords: big questions; open contests; scientism; statistical significance; graphs; figures. JEL Classifications: A11; A12; B23; C12; I23; J44; M4; O31. We fervently hope that the research pendulum will soon swing back from the narrow lines of inquiry that dominate today’s leading journals to a rediscovery of the richness of what accounting research can be. For that to occur, deans and the current generation of academic accountants must give it a push. —Michael H. Granof and Stephen A. Zeff (2008) Rather than clinging to the projects of the past, it is time to explore questions and engage with ideas that transgress the current accounting research boundaries. Allow your values to guide the formation of your research agenda. The passion will inevitably follow. —Joni J. Young (2009) INTRODUCTION A re most accounting academics and professionals excited when they receive the latest issue of The Accounting Review or an email of the Table of Contents? When I was a doctoral student and later an assistant professor, I looked forward to receiving new issues of top Sudipta Basu is an Associate Professor at Temple University . I thank Larry Brown, Chris Chapman, Stan Markov, Eric Press, Greg Waymire, and Joni Young for helpful comments and suggestions. Submitted: April 2012 Accepted: April 2012 Published Online: December 2012 Corresponding author: Sudipta Basu Email: [email protected] 851
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accounting journals. But as my research horizons widened, I found myself less interested in reading a recent issue of an accounting journal than one in a nearby discipline (e.g., Journal of Law and Economics ), or even a discipline further away (e.g., Evolution and Human Behavior ). Many accountants find little insight into important accounting issues in the top U.S. academic journals, which critics allege focus on arcane issues that interest a narrowing readership (e.g., Sterling 1976; Garcha et al. 1983; Flesher 1991; Heck and Jensen 2007 ). 1 Several prominent scholars raise concerns about recent accounting research. Joel Demski’s 2001 American Accounting Association (AAA) Presidential Address acknowledges the excitement of the mid-20th century advances in accounting research, but notes, ‘‘ Of late, however, a malaise appears to have settled in. Our progress has turned flat, our tribal tendencies have taken hold, and our joy has diminished.
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