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Teamwork from accounting graduates: what do employers really expect?

Rafael Paguio (Accounting and Finance, Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia)
Beverley Jackling (Accounting and Finance, Victoria University, Melbourne, Australia)

Accounting Research Journal

ISSN: 1030-9616

Article publication date: 5 September 2016

5989

Abstract

Purpose

The ability to work effectively in a team is highly regarded by employers of accounting graduates, yet they have expressed concern that many university graduates lack teamwork skills. Furthermore, in the context of the accounting curriculum, a “conceptual vagueness” surrounds a workplace-relevant definition of teamwork. Drawing on the theoretical perspectives of the healthcare sector where teamwork skills are required to be taught and assessed as part of accreditation processes, this study investigates what teamwork means from the perspective of accounting employers.

Design/methodology/approach

Semi-structured interviews were conducted with a purposive sample of employers to acquire descriptions of teamwork observed from graduate recruits. Using an analyst triangulation process, resulting teamwork items were analysed and emerging themes were identified.

Findings

Teamwork in accounting work contexts were identified, confirmed and explained. Mapped against the healthcare teamwork theories, many teamwork items from the interview analysis clustered around the mutual support competency and the dimensions of traits and motives.

Research Limitations/implications

The study was restricted to employers collaborating in one university’s placement program. Further research could investigate more diverse employer groups, determine importance ranking of identified teamwork themes and seek explanations for differences among different employer groups.

Practical implications

An enhanced description of teamwork is significant in supporting student awareness and informing teaching innovations/assessments of this generic skill in the accounting curriculum.

Originality/value

The paper provides a unique contribution of evidence-based descriptions of teamwork expected of accounting graduates, thus addressing conceptual and practical ambiguity of the meaning of teamwork skills in the accounting profession.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Accounting and Finance Association of Australia and New Zealand (AFAANZ). Apart from funding this research, AFAANZ has not been involved in any other aspect of this study.

Citation

Paguio, R. and Jackling, B. (2016), "Teamwork from accounting graduates: what do employers really expect?", Accounting Research Journal, Vol. 29 No. 3, pp. 348-366. https://doi.org/10.1108/ARJ-05-2014-0049

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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