This paper aims to investigate the production of accounting doctorates in South Africa during the period from 2008 to 2014. The investigation was prompted by calls to qualify more academics at the doctoral level, bearing in mind that postgraduate supervision forms part of an academic’s core teaching responsibilities.
This archival study uses data obtained from the institutional repositories of four research-intensive universities in South Africa to construct a profile of the accounting doctoral theses produced.
Overall, the findings indicate a move towards the international requirement for doctoral-qualified accounting academics, implying an increased research orientation in South African university accounting departments. Some of the detail findings follow: most doctorates were produced at the University of Cape Town and the University of Pretoria. The accounting fields of taxation and financial management produced the most doctorates. Almost 50 per cent of the doctorates went to members of staff. Further, 28 per cent of the doctorates went to students with the CA(SA) professional qualification. The use of the PhD by publication format is growing. The low quantity of PhDs produced can possibly be explained by the low numbers of PhD qualified professorial staff who can act as supervisors. Lastly, the accounting doctorates analysed in this paper were longer and supervised by more people than the typical commerce faculty doctorate.
Not all South African universities were included in the study and therefore some accounting doctorates might have been excluded. In addition, accounting education doctorates, possibly supervised in faculties of education, would also be excluded in view of the approach followed in this paper, which was to identify accounting doctorates via departments and commerce faculties.
This article is the first of its kind to examine the accounting doctorates produced in South Africa since Van der Schyf’s (2008) call for the establishment of a research culture in the accounting departments of South African universities. As such, this paper makes an important contribution towards how such a research culture may be enhanced through cultivating doctoral education in this context.
The definition of accounting doctorates used in this paper is wider than only doctorates produced in departments of accounting in South Africa and includes some doctorates produced in other commerce faculty departments in South Africa. This wider definition is necessary to maintain comparability between the different universities and is partly a reflection of historic developments in South African accounting education. Please see the detailed explanation in Section 3.2.
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