Enhancing the Benefits of Accounting Doctoral Consortia

Advances in Accounting Education: Teaching and Curriculum Innovations

ISBN: 978-1-78973-394-5, eISBN: 978-1-78973-393-8

ISSN: 1085-4622

Publication date: 7 October 2019

Abstract

Each year, hundreds of accounting doctoral students attend doctoral consortia (DC) sponsored by universities and academic organizations. This chapter reports results of a survey of consortium attendees and analysis of related consortium programs. The authors seek a better understanding of the benefits attendees perceive from these consortia, the content attendees found most valuable, and whether these consortia appear to achieve the goals of the sponsoring organizations.

Keywords

Citation

Christensen, A.L. and Rhoades-Catanach, S.C. (2019), "Enhancing the Benefits of Accounting Doctoral Consortia", Calderon, T.G. (Ed.) Advances in Accounting Education: Teaching and Curriculum Innovations (Advances in Accounting Education, Vol. 23), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 3-28. https://doi.org/10.1108/S1085-462220190000023001

Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019 Emerald Publishing Limited


Accounting doctoral consortia (DC) provide opportunities for PhD students from diverse backgrounds and universities to gather in pursuit of scholarship, mentoring, and career development. In recent decades, the number of consortia has grown from a handful to several dozen. While each consortium has its own approach, all involve a significant investment of time and resources. This chapter seeks a better understanding of the benefits participants perceive from consortium attendance, the content attendees found most valuable, and whether consortia are achieving the stated goals of their sponsoring organizations. Our objective is to identify opportunities to make accounting DC more effective, ensuring significant benefits to participants and the broader academic community.

Evaluating consortium effectiveness is warranted given the substantial investment in these programs. In addition, DC are one of the first opportunities for the accounting academic community to mentor its newest members so that they have rewarding careers benefitting academia, accounting practice, future students, and themselves. DC are often the first chance for PhD students to see the wider academic world, in which views may coincide with, enhance, or contradict those at their home school. Prospective attendees at DC will benefit from a better understanding of what to expect from attendance. Organizers and sponsors of DC will benefit from an understanding of consortium participants, their expectations, and their reactions to the experience.

While various academic organizations and universities offer DC, our study focuses on 10 DC sponsored by the AAA and its segments. Table 1 lists the 10 consortia examined in this study. We review consortium programs for academic years 2010–2011 through 2014–2015 for these consortia. We then survey attendees to better understand their consortium experience, the content they found most valuable, and gather their suggestions for improving future consortia.

Table 1.

Key Characteristics of AAA Doctoral Consortia.

Doctoral Consortiaa Sponsoring Segment Initial Year Eligible Attendees Average # of Attendeesb Percentage of International Attendees (%)c
AAA AAA and Deloitte Foundation 1971 Doctoral students 92 12
ABO Accounting Behavior and Organizations Section 2006 Doctoral students and new faculty 48 <5
AIS Accounting Information Systems Section 2003 Doctoral students and new faculty 23 0
ATA American Taxation Association 2005 Doctoral students 40 5
AUD Auditing Section 2001 Doctoral students 69 15
FAR Financial Accounting and Reporting Section 2003 Doctoral students 74 10
IAS International Accounting Section 2005 Doctoral students and new faculty 27 35–40
MAS Management Accounting Section 1997 Doctoral students 56 28
PI Public Interest Section 2009 Doctoral students and new faculty 10 10
MID Mid-Atlantic Region 2010 Doctoral students and new faculty 24 0

aAAA, American Accounting Association/Deloitte Foundation/Michael Cook Doctoral Consortium; ABO, Accounting Behavior and Organizations Doctoral Consortium; AIS, Accounting Information Systems New Scholars Consortium; ATA, KPMG/American Taxation Association Doctoral Consortium; AUD, Auditing Section Doctoral Consortium; FAR, Financial Accounting and Reporting Section Doctoral Consortium; IAS, International Accounting Section Doctoral Student/New Faculty Consortium; MAS, Managerial Accounting Section Doctoral Consortium; PI, Public Interest Doctoral Student and New Scholar Consortium; MID, Mid-Atlantic Region Doctoral Student/Junior Faculty Consortium.

bAveraged across our sample period of 2011–2015. For consortia that permit new faculty attendance, these statistics reflect only doctoral student attendance.

cThese percentages are from 2013 to 2014 AAA Doctoral Consortia Taskforce Report; the AAA consortium international attendee percentage is based on attendance records provided by AAA headquarters.

Our review of consortium programs reveals considerable diversity in structure, timing, and content. However, we note an overwhelming focus on academic research in formal sessions. While this focus is perhaps not surprising, it seems inconsistent with the AAA’s overall mission, and recommendations made by the Pathways Commission in its 2012 report, “Charting a National Strategy for the Next Generation of Accountants” (The Pathways Commission, 2012). The AAA’s strategic vision and the Pathways report stress the need for integrating accounting research, education, and practice. Yet, accounting DC largely ignore both teaching and practice in their formal programs. Our chapter identifies opportunities to improve DC programs and integrate research, education, and practice to address this need.

Our results demonstrate that participants perceive significant benefits from consortium activities related to research, networking, and career management. They value opportunities to network with future colleagues and senior researchers, meet potential co-authors, identify research topics, and understand the expectations, challenges, and benefits of their chosen career. Our respondents did not find their consortium experience helpful on teaching-related dimensions, yet their comments suggest a desire for increased teaching coverage at DC. Finally, respondents offer numerous suggestions for improving future accounting DC.

The remainder of this chapter is organized into five additional sections. The next section discusses prior literature relevant to our study. Background of AAA DC Section describes the objectives of AAA-sponsored DC and provides detail regarding program content for the consortia examined by this study. Survey and Data Section describes our survey and data collection procedures. Results Section presents survey results This is followed by the Summary and Conclusions Section. Limitations and Suggestions for Future Research Section present the limitations of our study. The last Recommendation Section details recommendations to consortium planners and sponsors.

Related Literature

Scholarly organizations have hosted doctoral student gatherings to discuss effective research methods and build professional networks for years. However, few studies examine DC effectiveness. Two published papers recount personal experiences with accounting DC (see Abdel-khalik, 1986; Ikaheimo, 1992). Both studies are decades old, and likely dated in their relation to current consortia. Other studies focus on accounting doctoral programs, including Brink, Glasscock, and Wier (2012), Gribbin, Sobery, and Braswell (2002), Baldwin, Brown, and Trinkle (2010), Beyer, Herrmann, Meek, and Rapley (2010), and Panozzo (1997). Although these studies make recommendations for improving doctoral education and attracting students to doctoral programs, none specifically address the benefits of DC.

A 2013 American Taxation Association (ATA) taskforce analyzed data related to the initial offerings of the KPMG/ATA Tax Doctoral Consortium. The taskforce notes that one of the primary reasons for initiating the ATA DC was to attract doctoral students to tax research, tax education, and membership in the ATA. Based on their analysis, the ATA taskforce concludes that the consortium is achieving its goals. In particular they note that 85% of past consortium attendees became or expect to become ATA members.

Brink and Quick (2016) report survey results on characteristics of accounting doctoral programs. Their objective is to provide prospective PhD students with information on doctoral program characteristics to facilitate informed decisions on the type of program to attend. Although their study is focused primarily on prospective students versus current students, they mention DC as providing opportunities to broaden students’ understanding and appreciation of accounting research.

Close and Guidry (2007) and Close, Moulard, and Monroe (2011) report survey results on factors influencing salary and first-year faculty placement of marketing doctoral candidates. Both studies find that a significant factor influencing initial salary was attendance at the AMA-Sheth Foundation Doctoral Consortium, an invitation-only DC sponsored by the American Marketing Association (AMA, 2018). The authors speculate that consortium attendance is perceived as an extrinsic cue of candidate quality and prospects as a new faculty member.

Background of AAA DC

History of the Consortia

Table 1 presents characteristics for each AAA-sponsored DC, including initial years, eligible attendees, average number of attendees, and percentage of international attendees. While five of the listed consortia invite both doctoral students and new faculty to attend, the focus of this chapter is on doctoral student attendees at these 10 consortia during our sample period.

In 1971, the AAA launched its first DC, currently known as the American Accounting Association/Deloitte Foundation/J. Michael Cook Doctoral Consortium (AAA Consortium) (Flesher, 1991). The most recent consortium examined in this study is the Mid-Atlantic Region Doctoral/Junior Faculty Consortium (MID), launched in 2010. The consortia listed on Table 1 vary considerably in size. The AAA consortium is the largest, with 92 average annual attendees during our sample period. The Public Interest Section Doctoral Student and Early Scholar Consortium (PI) is the smallest with 10 average annual attendees during our sample period. Attendance by students from non-U.S. doctoral programs also varies, from a high of 35% to 40% for the International Accounting Section (IAS) Doctoral/New Faculty Consortium (NFC) to a low of zero for both the Accounting Information Systems (AIS) and MID consortia.

Consortia Goals and Objectives

We reviewed consortium programs on the AAA and segment websites to better understand DC-stated goals and objectives. While this information might not provide a full picture of consortia goals and objectives, it does provide some basic and relatively consistent information. For example, all consortia examined indicate a focus on stimulating student research. Not surprisingly, most of the section-sponsored consortia appear to target students with research interests topically-related to that section’s focus. For example, the Accounting Behavior and Organizations Section (ABO) DC is designed for doctoral students interested in conducting behavioral research. The ATA DC, while focused on tax research, welcomes doctoral students who are undecided about taxation as a research focus. The AAA and MID DC are not topically focused, but seek to stimulate students to pursue research in significant subject areas, exposing them to research challenges, recent research findings, and senior researchers.

A few of the consortium programs include teaching, networking, and other items in their stated goals and objectives. For example, the AIS DC seeks to provide guidance on effective teaching of AIS. The Auditing Section (AUD) Consortium’s objectives include providing opportunities for networking with other doctoral students interested in auditing, established audit researchers, and journal editors. Similarly, the PI DC provides opportunities for networking with attendees interested in public interest issues in accounting. A goal of the ATA DC is to help prospective new tax faculty make the right choices in the early stages of their careers to become successful scholars.

Consortia Program Focus

For our sample period, we obtained and reviewed detailed consortium programs for all but one year for our 10 consortia. For the 2011 offering of the IAS consortium, we were unable to obtain any program detail. However, detailed IAS programs were reviewed for other years. Program content is summarized in Table 2.

Table 2.

Allocation of Doctoral Consortia Program Time.

Doctoral Consortiaa Overall Length (Hours)b Time Devoted to Research (Hours) Time Devoted to Teaching (Hours) Time Devoted to Career Management (Hours) Time Devoted to Practice Issues (Hours)
AAA 20–24 18–20 0–1.5 1–3 1.5
ABO 4 3–4 0 0–1 0
AIS 8 6.5–8 0–0.75 0–1.5 0
ATA 8 6–7 0–1.1 0–1.2 0–0.75
AUD 7.5 5–6.5 0 1 0–1.25
FAR 3.5 3.5 0 0 0
IAS 5.5–8 4–5.5 0–3 0 0–4
MAS 8 5–6.8 0 1.2–3 0
PI 4 4 0 0 0
MID 6.5 6 0 0 0

Notes: Information based on review of programs for our sample period obtained from AAA, section websites and program planners. All times are approximate and ranges reflect different amounts of time in different years.

aSee Table 1 for definitions of abbreviations.

bTime measures relate to formal program sessions, excluding receptions and meals.

The consortia examined vary in length from a few hours to several days. Average time spent in formal sessions was 445 minutes, excluding receptions, meals, and breaks (see Table 2). Formal sessions include a mix of presentations by faculty and accounting professionals, panel discussions, small-group breakout sessions, and questions and answer periods. Consistent with stated consortium goals and objectives as discussed in the prior sub-section, research sessions dominate the formal program. Over 75% of session time was research related. For three consortia (Financial Accounting and Reporting Section (FAR), PI, and MID), 100% of session time was devoted to research. Research sessions include topical presentations, methodological sessions, sessions on generating research ideas, and sessions related to the editorial process. Journal editor panels are also popular, featuring editors from a variety of accounting journals. Our survey explores participants’ perceptions of the value provided by these research sessions.

Career management sessions also are found on many DC programs. During our sample period, four of the consortia examined (FAR, IAS, PI, and MID) devoted no formal program sessions to career management. For programs including such sessions, approximately 20% of session time was related to career management. Popular topics include the job market; picking the right school; new faculty challenges; navigating the tenure process; and balancing research, teaching, and service responsibilities. Our survey explores participants’ perceptions of the value provided by these career management sessions.

Only a few of the consortium programs examined include formal sessions devoted to teaching. Of those programs with teaching sessions, on average less than 10% of session time was teaching-related. Of the ten consortia examined, six (ABO, AUD, FAR, MAS, PI, and MID) devoted no session time to teaching during our sample period. Only the AIS consortium specifically references teaching in its stated consortium goals and objectives. Our survey explores participants’ perceptions of the value provided by these teaching sessions.

Of the consortium programs examined, only one included a formal session on networking. However, these gatherings present clear opportunities for networking both in formal sessions and during meals and receptions. Thus, our survey addresses participants’ perceptions of networking opportunities presented by attendance at DC.

Only a small proportion (average of one hour at 10 of the 49 programs examined) of session time at the DC examined in this study was devoted to accounting practice issues. The notable exception was the 2015 IAS consortium, which devoted four hours to a workshop on sustainability accounting. The AAA consortium program typically contains a panel discussion on relating research and practice, while the AUD consortium offers a similar panel on the interplay of research, standard setting, and regulation. Because of the limited DC attention to practice during our sample period, our survey does not ask participants for their perceptions of these sessions.

Survey and Data

In 2014, we proposed this study and received permission to contact past attendees from the President and Executive Director of the AAA. AAA staff and section leaders provided lists of names and email addresses for consortia attendees. These lists covered attendees from 2011 to 2015 except for ABO, which has a fall DC, whose list was from 2010 to 2014. This study was approved by the Institutional Review Board at the primary investigating university.

Participants

As indicated in Table 3, there were 2,319 attendees at our 10 consortia during the sample period. Many students attended more than one consortium. Lists of attendees were filtered so that those who attended multiple consortia would not receive multiple emails requesting participation. We sent emails to 1,247 unique individuals, of which 392 (31%) completed the questionnaire. After excluding three respondents that attended DC outside our timeframe, three individuals that completed their doctorates before attending a DC, and one non-tenure-track faculty member not pursuing a doctorate, we have 385 (31%) usable responses. The initial request for participation was sent in October 2015, followed by two reminders at two-week intervals to non-respondents.

Table 3.

Overall Survey Responses.

Doctoral Consortiaa (DC) All Student Attendees 2011–2015b Respondents Attended One or More Times Respondents Attended >1 This Doctoral Consortiumc AAA DC Respondent Attendees Who Attended Section/Region DCs Repetitive If Attended >1 DC; 0 = Very and 5 = Not at All Mean (SD) Most Meaningful Doctoral Consortium (%)d Optimum Time to Attend Most Meaningful DC; 0 = Too Early and 5 = Too Late Mean (SD)
AAA 461 140 0 3.36 (1.42) 111 (79) 2.94 (0.53)
ABO 239 78 44 20 3.10 (1.121) 30 (38) 3.07 (0.59)
AIS 116 18 8 4 3.18 (1.47) 9 (50) 3.00 (0.50)
ATA 201 74 47 23 3.22 (1.35) 55 (74) 2.87 (0.58)
AUD 343 116 47 32 2.99 (1.36) 71 (61) 2.96 (0.55)
FAR 368 82 10 32 3.82 (1.09) 40 (49) 3.08 (0.66)
IAS 136 33 6 8 4.00 (1.14) 18 (55) 2.89 (0.47)
MAS 282 46 29 9 2.90 (1.28) 40 (87) 2.98 (0.58)
PI 52 7 0 3 3.14 (1.95) 1 (14) 3.00
MID 121 16 3 2 3.56 (1.51) 10 (63) 3.00 (0.94)
Total 2319 610 194 133 3.25 (1.37) 385 2.96 (0.57)

aSee Table 1 for definitions of abbreviations.

bABO attendees are from 2010 to 2014.

cStudents are permitted to attend some DC more than once and 43.4% did so; 385 respondents attended a total of 610 AAA related DC. 44.2% of students attended two or more different DC.

dRespondents were asked to select their most meaningful DC. If respondents only attended one consortium that would be their most meaningful DC.

Questionnaire

The questionnaire was developed and revised based on goals and objectives for DC, past consortium programs, suggestions from several past DC leaders, and multiple individuals in AAA leadership positions with direct DC experience. The questionnaire first asked individuals about the DC they attended, then asked them to select the DC that was most meaningful in terms of their career progress as a future faculty member. Respondents then answered questions related to research, teaching, career management, and networking based on their most meaningful consortium. At the beginning of the teaching and career management sections, respondents were asked if their most meaningful consortium devoted time to teaching or career management topics. If the respondent indicated no, questions related to the particular topic not covered were not presented.

Individuals were asked demographic questions such as year doctorate completed or anticipated completed, year began work as a tenure-track professor (if applicable), primary research area, primary research method, gender, age, and accounting-related work experience. Finally, individuals were asked about their publications to date and working papers, and whether they had collaborated on any of these research projects with individuals they met at a DC.

Results

Survey Response Rate and Demographics

As noted in Table 3, 385 (31%) of the 1,247 individuals contacted provided usable responses. Forty-four percent of individuals attended several different consortia and 43% attended a particular consortium more than once for DC allowing attendance multiple times. Respondents attending multiple consortia indicated that the information received was not too repetitive (mean 3.25 on a 5-point scale where 0 equals “very repetitive” to 5 equals “not at all repetitive”). We asked respondents how repetition might be limited in future DC. Respondents generally indicated that repetition is helpful and some expressed concern that topics not be dropped as some individuals only attend a single consortium. Others indicated that consortia should rotate topics, speakers, and gear activities to students based on their year in the doctoral program.

Respondents were asked to select their “most meaningful doctoral consortium” and to answer subsequent questions based on their experiences at that DC. If a respondent attended only one DC, that would be their most meaningful consortium. As shown in Table 3, among respondents who attended the AAA DC, 88% indicated it was the most meaningful one they attended. The AAA DC provides a multiday experience, while other consortia typically last a single day or part of a day. Only one of seven respondents who attended the PI Consortium indicated it was their most meaningful; however, this DC is relatively small and our response rate for it was low (13.5%). Respondents on average indicated they believed they attended their most meaningful DC at the optimum time in their doctoral education (mean 2.96 on a 5-point scale from 0 equals “too early” to 5 indicates “too late”).

Respondents are 52% male and 27% single, with a mean age of 34.48 years and ages ranging from 24 to 68 years. Most of our respondents (84%) completed or anticipated completing their doctorate in four or five years. Overall, 79% of respondents worked in an accounting-related job prior to pursuing their doctorate. Nine percent of respondents indicate they had worked in advisory services, 34% in auditing, 17% in tax, 22% in industry, and 7% in government or not-for-profit accounting. In addition, 10% worked as non-tenure-track instructors prior to entering their doctoral programs.

Respondents were asked the question “Attendance at my most meaningful DC had the biggest impact on my: research success, teaching success, career management success, or networking success.” No respondents chose teaching success as the biggest impact of their most meaningful DC. Research success was the most common response (44%), followed by networking success (36%) and career management success (20%). These overall results are consistent with the detailed discussions below.

Research

Respondents were asked to evaluate their most meaningful consortium with respect to a range of research activities. Results are presented in Table 4. “Learning how to articulate the importance of a research question,” was the highest rated research aspect (mean 3.82 on a 5-point scale where 1 equals “not helpful” and 5 equals “very helpful”). “Identifying the appropriate journal for a given working paper,” was the lowest rated (mean 2.95). Other highly rated activities included “Becoming familiar with new research areas” (mean 3.79), “Understanding how to manage the research process” (mean 3.64), and “Understanding how to obtain feedback on working papers” (mean 3.57). The overall rating for research activities was a mean of 3.80. The AAA Consortium had the highest overall rating with a mean of 4.00.

Table 4.

Research Aspects of Doctoral Consortia (DC).

Most Meaningful DC
Helpfulness With Respect To: AAAa ABO AIS ATA AUD FAR IAS MAS PI MID Total
Becoming familiar with one or more new research areas Mean 3.78 3.47 2.56 4.11 3.68 3.82 4.35 3.90 4.00 3.40 3.79
N 110 30 9 53 71 39 17 40 1 10 380
SD 1.04 1.31 1.13 0.80 0.91 1.07 1.06 0.90 0.97 1.03
Generating new ideas for research projects Mean 3.46 3.53 3.33 3.60 3.41 3.46 4.18 3.63 4.00 3.40 3.52
N 110 30 9 53 71 39 17 40 1 10 380
SD 0.99 1.14 0.71 0.91 0.95 1.19 1.13 .93 1.17 1.01
Learning how to articulate the importance of a research question Mean 4.00 3.83 3.78 3.68 3.69 3.56 4.24 3.88 3 3.80 3.82
N 110 30 9 53 71 39 17 40 1 10 380
SD 1.05 1.18 0.83 0.87 0.84 1.10 0.83 1.07 0.92 1.00
Determining how a particular research question fits with the existing literature Mean 3.32 3.00 3.00 3.62 3.28 3.26 3.65 3.35 3.0 3.80 3.34
N 109 30 9 53 71 40 17 40 1 10 379
SD 1.12 1.25 1.12 1.00 0.98 0.95 1.27 0.95 0.92 1.07
Developing appropriate research designs for particular research questions Mean 3.26 3.63 2.33 3.04 3.11 3.08 3.59 3.28 3.0 3.70 3.22
N 110 30 9 53 71 39 17 40 1 10 380
SD 1.04 1.07 1.22 1.06 1.13 1.16 1.37 1.06 0.95 1.10
Evaluating the trade-offs when considering research designs for a particular question Mean 3.25 3.23 2.44 3.00 2.96 3.39 3.53 3.50 3.00 3.20 3.18
N 110 30 9 53 71 39 17 38 1 10 378
SD 1.13 1.19 1.24 1.18 1.02 1.02 1.37 1.06 1.23 1.13
Identifying co-authors for research projects Mean 3.73 3.30 3.56 3.60 3.38 2.82 3.35 3.43 1.0 2.90 3.44
N 110 30 9 53 71 39 17 40 1 10 380
SD 1.00 1.39 1.51 1.06 1.21 1.21 1.41 1.24 1.10 1.19
Understanding how to manage the research process from start to finish Mean 3.67 3.73 3.67 3.93 3.70 3.28 3.57 3.40 3.00 3.40 3.64
N 110 30 9 53 71 39 14 40 1 10 380
SD 1.06 1.01 1.12 0.98 1.10 1.12 1.09 1.01 1.08 1.06
Five-point response scale where 1 equals “Not at all helpful,” 3 equals “Neutral,” and 5 equals “Very Helpful.”
Most Meaningful DC
Helpfulness With Respect To: AAA ABO AIS ATA AUD FAR IAS MAS PI MID Total
Identifying limitations or flaws in research projects Mean 3.48 3.57 3.44 3.26 3.32 3.18 3.94 3.40 4.00 3.40 3.41
N 110 30 9 53 71 38 17 40 1 10 380
SD 1.04 1.08 1.01 1.00 1.13 1.09 0.97 0.98 0.84 1.05
Understanding how to obtain feedback on working papers Mean 3.56 3.63 4.00 3.79 3.49 3.28 3.71 3.50 3.00 3.90 3.57
N 110 30 9 53 71 39 17 40 1 10 380
SD 1.15 1.10 1.00 0.97 1.11 1.02 1.36 0.88 0.74 1.07
Identifying workshops or conferences where working papers could be presented Mean 3.07 3.20 3.67 3.53 3.32 3.08 3.65 3.20 1.0 3.70 3.26
N 110 30 9 51 71 39 17 40 1 10 378
SD 1.15 1.00 0.71 0.90 1.08 1.18 1.50 1.07 0.82 1.10
Understanding when a paper is ready to be submitted to a journal Mean 3.24 2.80 3.33 3.21 3.13 2.87 3.24 3.08 3.00 3.70 3.14
N 109 30 9 53 71 39 17 40 1 10 379
SD 1.04 1.21 1.12 0.95 1.11 1.06 1.52 1.14 0.82 1.09
Identifying the appropriate journal for a given working paper Mean 2.87 2.67 3.33 3.11 2.89 2.82 3.53 2.95 3.00 3.40 2.95
N 110 30 9 53 71 38 17 40 1 10 379
SD 1.12 1.09 1.22 1.12 1.18 1.11 1.37 1.26 0.97 1.16
Knowing how to respond to reviewer and editor comments when a paper is returned from a journal with a request for revisions Mean 3.45 3.23 3.33 3.64 3.30 2.77 2.94 3.50 1.00 4.00 3.35
N 109 30 9 53 71 39 17 40 1 10 379
SD 1.25 1.41 1.00 1.00 1.23 1.11 1.56 1.20 0.67 1.23
Overall the Doctoral Consortium activities related to research were Mean 4.00 3.73 3.56 3.96 3.59 3.50 3.94 3.80 3.00 3.60 3.80
N 107 30 9 54 71 38 18 40 1 10 378
SD 0.89 1.05 0.73 0.99 0.93 1.16 0.87 0.79 0.97 0.95

Note: Survey responses to statements regarding the helpfulness of DC in addressing various aspects of research as detailed in the table. Five-point response scale where: 1 = “Not at all helpful,” 3 = “Neutral,” and 5 = “Very Helpful.”

aSee Table 1 for definitions of abbreviations.

Given the research focus of DC, our survey gathered information regarding respondents’ research interests and research success. This information could be useful to consortium planners in designing future programs. Thirty percent of respondents indicated financial accounting was their primary research area, 32% audit, 17% taxation, 12% managerial, 2.5% accounting information systems, 1.5% international, 1% governmental/not-for-profit, 1% ethics, 1% accounting education, and 2% other. The majority of respondents, 61%, indicated that archival is their primary research method. The remainder are 28% experimental, 5% quasi-experimental (survey), 2% analytical, 1% case study, 1% legal, and 2% other. These results suggest that consortium sessions geared toward empirical/archival research may interest the majority of consortium participants.

Among our respondents, 31.17% had published one or more articles, as shown in Table 5. Of these respondents, 19.22% published articles in AAA journals (not tabulated). Among respondents who had not yet completed their doctorates, 15.79% published one or more articles and 7.89% published in a AAA journal. Thus, over 15% of respondents published articles during their doctoral programs.

Table 5.

Publications for Those Who Attended the AAA or Another Consortium.

Entire Sample Respondents Who Published Before Doctorate Completed
AAA Other Total AAA Other Total
Total Pubs 0.00 76 189 265 31 97 128
1.00 20 49 69 6 13 19
2.00 7 16 23 2 1 3
3.00 3 9 12 1 0 1
4.00 5 10 15 1 0 1
6.00 0 1 1 0 0 0
Total 111 274 385 41 111 152
% Who published 31.53 31.02 31.17 24.39 12.61 15.79

AAA, American Accounting Association.

As shown in Table 6, 27 respondents published 33 articles in The Accounting Review, 10 respondents published 12 articles in Accounting Horizons, and 10 respondents published 13 articles in Issues in Accounting Education. The largest number of these articles was published by individuals indicating the AUD Consortium was the most meaningful (12 articles in The Accounting Review, six in Accounting Horizons, and six in Issues in Accounting Education). There is a significant positive correlation between number of DC attended and total number of publications (0.224, p < 0.000). The respondent with the most publications, six, attended the AUD Consortium twice and did not attend any other consortia. There are 15 respondents with four publications each; of these 15, eight attended two DC, five attended three DC, and two attended four DC. Table 6 also indicates that 28 respondents still in their doctoral programs when they completed the questionnaire, published one article and one respondent published three articles. While we cannot claim a causal relationship between DC attendance and publication, there is a significant correlation within our respondent group.

Table 6.

Publications by Journal for All Respondents and Those Who Completed Doctorate After 2015.

Most Meaningful Doctorate > 2015
Journal # of Pubs AAAa Other Total People Total Pubs AAA Other Total People Total Pubs
The Accounting Review 1 8 13 21 33 3 2 5 5
2 6 6
Accounting Horizons 1 2 6 8 12
2 1 1 2
Issues in Accounting Education 1 1 6 7 13
2 3 3
Accounting and the Public Interest 1 1 1 1
Auditing: A Journal of Practice and Theory 1 3 8 11 15 1 1 1
2 1 1 2
Behavioral Research in Accounting 1 5 5 5 2 2 2
Current Issues in Auditing 1 2 4 6 6
Journal of the American Taxation Association 1 3 8 11 14 1 1 2 2
2 0
3 1 1
Journal of Emerging Technologies in Accounting 1 1 1 1
Journal of Information Systems 1 2 4 6 10 1 2 3
2 1 1 2 1
The ATA Journal of Legal Tax Research 1 1 1 1
Journal of Management Accounting Research 1 3 3 5
2 1 1
Journal of Accounting and Economics 1 2 5 7 9 2 2 2
2 1 1
Journal of Accounting Research 1 2 1 3 3 1 1 1
Contemporary Accounting Research 1 5 12 17 19 1 1 1
2 1 1
Review of Accounting Studies 1 3 2 5 7 1 1 2 2
2 1 1
Accounting, Organizations, and Society 1 1 4 5 5 1 1 1
National Tax Journal 1 2 2 2
Other 1 14 26 40 56 4 5 10 12
2 1 4 5
3 1 1 2 1
Total 66 5 187 217 13 19 29 32

aAAA, American Accounting Association.

One of the DC aspects that respondents particularly valued was the opportunity to discuss research ideas and find co-authors. Sixty-two respondents indicate they co-authored from one to five working papers with someone they met at a DC. In addition, 11 respondents indicate they published between one and three papers with someone they met at a DC. Respondents reported 47 working papers co-authored by AAA Consortium respondents, 20 by MAS, 16 by AUD, 14 by ATA, 11 by ABO, four each by AIS and IAS, and one by FAR. There are 11 publications reported as co-authored by AAA Consortium respondents, four by AUD and one each by ATA and IAS respondents. Consortium planners might consider ways to encourage co-authorship among participants, perhaps through research idea-generation sessions that pair up participants with similar interests.

Respondents were asked to describe their biggest takeaway from their most meaningful DC. Many of these responses related to research. Two respondents indicate they identified their dissertation topic during or because of consortium participation. Similarly, one respondent identified a first-year paper topic during a consortium. Many respondents describe the most valuable aspects of the consortia are the following: generating research ideas, discussing and defending their ideas, how to develop an idea, and when to give up on bad ideas. Others describe takeaways associated with the research process, including choosing research methodologies appropriate to the question, writing a good introduction, choosing a publication outlet, and responding to review comments. Finally, many focus on advice for managing their research pipeline, developing a strong research reputation, identifying co-authors, and maintaining research productivity.

Respondents were asked about specific research-related topics they wish had been included in their most meaningful DC. Many responses relate to the research process, such as choosing questions, designing studies, managing the process from start to finish, choosing journals to target, and handling reviewer comments. Others wish for more one-on-one feedback and even a mentoring program to pair faculty with doctoral students with similar interests. Some respondents indicated the DC they attended did not address some of the research issues in the questionnaire and they wished these issues had been included.

Respondents were also asked for their suggestions for improving future DC. Not surprisingly, their research suggestions for future consortia are similar to their comments on what they wish had been included in their consortium, as described above. In addition, respondents stress the need for resident faculty to represent more diverse research methodologies from a broader group of universities.

Several respondents suggest having students present their own work for discussion and feedback. The AAA Consortium has implemented such sessions in recent years, in which students present their work in small-group breakouts led by senior scholars in their area of interest. The feedback has been quite positive on these sessions. Other DC might benefit from adopting a similar format.

In summary, the consortia examined here appear to be achieving their research goals. Respondents overall found the research sessions helpful. In addition, with one exception (“Identifying the appropriate journal for a given working paper,” rated 2.95, just below neutral) all the research dimensions listed in Table 4 received a “helpful” rating. While we cannot claim a causal link between consortium attendance and publication, our results indicate that a significant percentage of respondents are publishing their research. Given the recency of respondents’ attendance at these consortia, the short length of their academic careers to date, and the length of the publication process, the finding that 31% of our respondents have published their research is a positive result. In addition, over 15% of respondents published research prior to completing their doctorate. Finally, respondent suggestions provide rich information for consortium planners seeking new ideas research coverage at future consortia.

Teaching

Our review of DC programs suggests that AAA-sponsored consortia devote few formal sessions to teaching issues. To assess the extent to which participants found these discussions helpful, our survey included four questions on teaching. Table 7, Panel A, presents these questions and related responses. Each question provided a 5-point response scale, with 1 = “Not at all helpful,” 3 = “Neutral,” and 5 = “Very helpful.”

Table 7.

Teaching Aspects of Doctoral Consortia (DC).

Panel A: Survey Responses to Statements Regarding the Helpfulness of DC in Addressing Various Aspects of Teaching as Detailed Below. Results Provided Only for Respondents Who Attended a DC With Actual Teaching Sessions.
Most Meaningful DC
Helpfulness With Respect To: AAA ATA IAS Total
Developing overall course objectives Mean 2.87 3.10 3.33 2.95
N 54 20 3 77
SD 1.06 1.33 0.58 1.12
% Helpful 28% 40% 33% 31%
% Not helpful 30% 25% 0% 27%
Identifying the most effective methods to achieve course objectives Mean 3.26 3.45 3.33 3.31
N 54 20 3 77
SD 1.07 1.28 0.58 1.10
% Helpful 50% 65% 33% 53%
% Not helpful 19% 20% 0% 18%
Determining appropriate assessment techniques Mean 2.76 2.95 3.33 2.83
N 54 20 3 77
SD 1.10 1.15 0.58 1.09
% Helpful 26% 25% 33% 26%
% Not helpful 31% 25% 0% 29%
Overall the Doctoral Consortium activities related to teaching were Mean 2.88 3.00 3.33 2.93
N 52 19 3 74
SD 1.14 1.29 0.58 1.14
% Helpful 27% 32% 33% 28%
% Not helpful 33% 32% 0% 30%

Five-point response scale where 1 equals “Not at all helpful,” 3 equals “Neutral,” and 5 equals “Very Helpful.”

Note: See Table 1 for definitions of abbreviations. Helpful = response of 4 or 5; Not Helpful = response of 1 or 2.

Panel B. First-Year Credits Taught
Most Meaningful DC Most Meaningful DC
Quarter Semester
AAA Other Total AAA Other Total
0–5 2 5 7 3 11 14
6–10 1 1 2 24 44 68
11–15 2 2 11 36 47
16–20 2 2 2 23 25
>20 1 1 1 1 2
Mean (SD) 8.60 (6.91) 7.78 (6.89) 8.07 (6.64) 9.90 (4.29) 11.11 (4.65) 10.79 (4.58)
N 5 9 14 41 115 156

Notes: This table indicates the number of credits taught during first year in a tenure-track position by respondents who attended each DC. Results are tabulated on the basis of respondents’ selection of the most meaningful DC attended. Respondents that had not yet completed their doctoral programs did not answer this question. One international respondent, who indicated s/he taught 40 semester credits not included.

Panel C. Number of Course Preparations First Year as Tenure-track Faculty
Most Meaningful DC AAA Other Total
1st year #preps 1 32 75 107
2 11 34 45
3 4 13 17
4 1 3 4
5 1 4 5
Total 49 129 178

Table 7 responses are for respondents attending a DC that offered formal sessions devoted to teaching. As shown in Table 2, only the AAA, ATA, and IAS consortia offered such sessions. Overall, none of these responses are significantly different from neutral, with the exception of “Effective methods to achieve objectives,” which was marginally significant (p < 0.08) only at the AAA DC. In summary, participants do not find consortia helpful in developing course objectives, identifying effective teaching methods, or determining assessment techniques. Overall, 30% of these respondents indicate that DC content related to teaching was not helpful, with only 28% indicating it was helpful.

When asked about teaching-related topics they wish had been included in their consortia, several respondents focused on time management. Specifically, they sought advice on managing teaching time to increase research productivity, managing time when faced with a new course preparation or when assigned multiple course preparations, and managing student expectations of their availability to increase research productivity. Others asked for segments on best practices for course design and implementation, techniques from expert teachers, and assessment.

As previously mentioned, respondents were asked to describe their biggest takeaway from their most meaningful DC. Given the limited coverage of teaching at most consortia, not surprisingly no respondents identified any biggest takeaways related to teaching. However, when asked for suggestions to improve future consortia, many respondents mention more consideration of teaching issues, including how to balance teaching and research demands, and advice for those pursuing careers at more teaching-oriented schools.

Panel B of Table 7 presents information on number of credits taught in their first year as faculty, by the subset of respondents that had completed their doctoral program. For schools with a quarter system, respondents on average taught 8.07 credits in their first teaching year. Under a semester system, respondents averaged 10.79 credits in their first teaching year. As indicated by the large standard deviations of these means, first-year teach loads vary considerably. Of the 171 responses to this question, 92% are teaching in a semester system. A majority of these respondents (52%) taught 10 credits or less in their first teaching year. However, 17% taught 16 or more credits their first year, with two respondents teaching more than 20 credits that year.

Panel C of Table 7 presents information on courses taught by respondents in their first year as tenure-track faculty. Some individuals had only one course preparation, but others taught multiple courses, resulting in a total of 295 courses prepared by 178 individuals. Financial accounting principles was the most frequently taught course by 46 respondents, followed by auditing (43 individuals), intermediate accounting (32 individuals), managerial accounting principles (31 individuals), and cost accounting (30 individuals).

Overall, results with respect to teaching are consistent with the research focus of AAA-sponsored DC. Respondents did not find the limited consortia teaching coverage particularly helpful. However, respondents indicate a desire for additional teaching coverage, particularly with respect to time management. Consortium planners might consider ways to address these issues, perhaps in panel discussions or question and answer periods. If consortium planners are considering increasing total consortium time, sessions related to teaching appear to be desirable and could fill an important void.

Our survey asked respondents who had completed their doctorate whether they attended the AAA NFC. If so, we asked for their impressions of similarities and differences between DC and the NFC. Many respondents comment that the NFC provided more coverage of teaching issues, with less research focus. For new accounting academics that attend NFC, this experience may fill some of the gaps noted for DC with regards to teaching. The final section of this chapter makes additional recommendations for addressing this need.

Career Management and Networking

Our survey included seven questions on career management. Table 8 presents these questions and responses. We include only responses from participants attending a DC with a formal session on career management. As noted in Table 2, the AAA, ABO, AIS, ATA, AUD, and MAS consortia offered such sessions. Each question provided a 5-point response scale, with 1 = not at all helpful, 3 = neutral, and 5 = very helpful.

Table 8.

Career Management Aspects of Doctoral Consortia (DC).

Most Meaningful DC
Helpfulness With Respect To: AAAa ABO AIS ATA AUD MAS Total
Choosing the “right” university based on research and teaching interests Mean 3.69 3.58 4.33 3.39 3.26 3.00 3.43
N 83 12 3 31 62 30 221
SD 1.09 1.00 0.58 1.09 1.16 1.17 1.13
Balancing research, teaching, and service responsibilities Mean 4.09 3.92 4.33 4.33 3.85 3.40 3.95
N 82 12 3 30 62 30 219
SD 1.03 1.08 0.58 0.88 0.90 1.07 1.01
Identifying appropriate mentors Mean 3.81 3.00 4.00 3.84 3.61 3.37 3.66
N 83 11 3 31 62 30 220
SD 0.90 1.34 1.00 0.82 1.01 0.96 0.97
Establishing a time line of activities to complete to achieve tenure Mean 3.88 3.50 4.33 4.13 3.89 3.70 3.88
N 83 12 3 31 62 30 221
SD 0.98 1.31 0.58 0.72 0.99 1.24 1.01
Pitfalls to avoid as a new faculty member Mean 4.09 4.08 4.33 4.45 3.94 3.83 4.06
N 82 12 3 31 62 30 220
SD 0.94 1.16 0.58 0.56 0.92 1.18 0.95
Knowing what to do when things go wrong Mean 3.20 2.58 3.00 3.65 2.97 3.17 3.16
N 83 12 3 31 62 30 221
SD 1.11 1.24 1.00 0.88 1.01 1.21 1.09
Overall the DC activities related to career management were Mean 3.88 3.33 4.67 4.07 3.66 3.27 3.74
N 81 12 3 30 62 30 218
SD 0.93 1.37 0.58 0.91 0.87 1.23 1.01

Notes: Survey responses to statements regarding the helpfulness of DC in addressing various aspects of career as detailed below. Responses provided only by respondents who attended a DC with actual career management sessions. Five-point response scale where 1 equals “Not at all helpful,” 3 equals “Neutral,” and 5 equals “Very Helpful.”

aSee Table 1 for definitions of abbreviations.

Overall, participants appear to value consortium sessions devoted to career management (3.74 mean). This overall mean is substantially higher than the ratings given for teaching (2.93 mean). Aspects of career management associated with “Pitfalls to avoid as a new faculty member” and “Balancing research, teaching, and service responsibilities” were ranked most highly. “Knowing what to do when things go wrong” received the lowest rankings, with an overall mean close to Neutral (3.16 mean). The AIS Consortium received the highest overall rating with respect to career management (4.67 mean).

Although consortium programs devote little if any formal session time to networking, anecdotal evidence suggests that networking with peers and faculty is an important aspect of DC. To assess the extent to which participants found these networking opportunities helpful, our survey included six questions on networking. Table 9 presents these questions and responses. Each question provided a 5-point response scale, with 1 equal to “Not at all helpful,” 3 equal to “Neutral,” and 5 equal to “Very helpful.”

Table 9.

Networking Aspect of Doctoral Consortia (DC).

Most Meaningful DC
Helpfulness With Respect To: AAAa ABO AIS ATA AUD FAR IAS MAS PI MID Total
Making connections with doctoral students with shared research interests Mean 4.57 4.20 4.22 4.59 4.36 3.82 4.06 4.38 4.00 4.22 4.36
N 104 30 9 53 70 39 18 40 1 9 373
SD 0.72 0.89 0.67 0.69 0.85 1.17 1.16 0.87 0.44 0.87
Making connections with doctoral students with shared teaching interests Mean 3.21 2.80 3.44 3.30 3.30 2.80 2.71 3.00 1.00 2.44 3.10
N 104 30 9 53 71 39 17 40 1 9 373
SD 1.20 1.42 1.13 1.14 1.34 1.00 1.53 1.43 1.51 1.28
Making connections with experienced faculty with shared research interests Mean 4.04 3.57 4.22 4.15 3.89 3.33 3.94 3.93 4.00 4.00 3.90
N 104 30 9 53 71 39 18 40 1 9 374
SD 0.92 1.19 0.67 0.93 0.98 1.11 1.16 0.94 1.00 1.01
Making connections with experienced faculty with shared teaching interests Mean 3.03 2.43 3.89 3.17 2.96 2.62 2.82 3.03 1.00 3.00 2.95
N 104 30 9 53 71 39 17 40 1 9 373
SD 1.24 1.28 0.93 1.28 1.24 1.11 1.63 1.23 1.32 1.27
Most Meaningful DC
Helpfulness with Respect To: AAA ABO AIS ATA AUD FAR IAS MAS PI MID Total
Meeting doctoral students and/or faculty from the schools where I hoped to find a position Mean 3.97 3.60 3.67 4.15 3.92 3.41 3.59 3.85 1.00 3.56 3.84
N 104 30 9 53 71 39 17 40 1 9 373
SD 1.07 1.19 0.87 0.82 1.09 1.21 1.37 1.14 1.42 1.12
Overall the DC activities related to networking were Mean 4.27 3.60 4.11 4.19 4.00 3.44 3.88 3.85 2.00 3.40 3.98
N 103 30 9 52 70 36 17 40 1 10 368
SD 0.90 1.10 0.78 0.84 1.02 1.38 1.36 1.19 0.70 1.07

Survey responses to statements regarding the helpfulness of DC in addressing various aspects of networking as detailed below. Five-point response scale where 1 = “Not at all helpful,” 3 = “Neutral,” and 5 = “Very Helpful.”

aSee Table 1 for definitions of abbreviations.

Responses are consistent with our expectation that networking is a valuable part of any DC. The overall mean for networking activities is 3.98, higher than the overall means for research (3.80), teaching (2.80), and career management (3.68). The networking aspects ranked highest were “Making connections with doctoral students with shared research interests” (4.36 mean), “Making connections with experienced faculty with shared research interests” (3.90 mean), and “Meeting doctoral students and/or faculty from the schools where I hope to find a position” (3.84 mean). The least valued aspect of networking was “Making connections with experienced faculty with shared teaching interests” (2.95 mean). The AAA Consortium had the highest overall rating for networking (4.25 mean).

Respondents were asked what sessions they would like to have had included in the consortia related to career management and networking. Several respondents comment on the need for diversity among presenters, with representation from a range of schools. While they appreciate the opportunity to hear from top research faculty, they acknowledge that few will be placed or achieve tenure at the top schools. Respondents seek advice on career management from faculty at schools with experience similar to their anticipated placement.

When asked what sessions were needed for networking, many respondents comment that this is already a strong aspect of DC. One suggests a need for more opportunities to network in small groups, with other students and faculty with similar research interests. Others suggest the need for more sharing of ideas with other participants in less structured settings yet more directed than simple social interaction. With respect to career management, respondents suggest sessions addressing women’s issues, dual career issues, time management, and how to avoid and overcome common career pitfalls.

When asked about their biggest takeaway from their most meaningful consortium, networking opportunities are frequently cited. Respondents appreciate the opportunity to meet other students and faculty, and recognize that effective networking can generate co-authorships, expose them to alternate viewpoints, inspire hard work, and promote professional success. Career management and clarification of expectations for success are also cited by several respondents as their biggest takeaways.

Taken together, the results for networking and career management indicate these are valuable aspects of DC. Although research is the primary focus of AAA-sponsored DC, planning committees and consortium leaders should acknowledge and support these additional benefits to participants. Our respondents that attended NFC indicated that career management and networking were a valuable part of that experience. NFC coverage also focused on the transition from doctoral student to faculty member, a topic of vital interest to our respondents.

Summary and Conclusions

This chapter reports results of a survey of attendees at AAA-sponsored DC from 2011 to 2015. The survey explores participant perceptions of the benefits of consortium attendance, and the value of consortium activities related to research, teaching, career management, and networking. Attendees were also asked about their biggest takeaways from consortium attendance and their suggestions for improving future DC.

Overall, survey respondents perceive significant benefits from DC. They are networking with future colleagues, establishing relationships with senior researchers, meeting potential co-authors, identifying dissertation topics, and obtaining a clear grasp of expectations, challenges, and benefits of their chosen career path. When asked about the biggest impact of DC attendance on their career success, the impact on research success is the most common response, followed by networking success and career management success.

Over 31% of respondents had published one or more research articles (over 19% in AAA journals). Among respondents who had not yet completed their doctorate at the time of the survey, nearly 16% had published. We also observe a significant positive correlation between number of DC attended and number of publications by respondents. In addition, DC attendance is facilitating co-authorship. Over 16% of respondents indicate they have co-authored at least one manuscript with someone they met at a DC. Overall, it appears that DC research content is promoting publication by consortium attendees. On a 5-point scale across all consortia, respondents awarded a mean 3.80 rating to research activities.

In stark contrast to the results for research, respondents did not find their consortium experience helpful on teaching-related dimensions. This result is not surprising, because consortium objectives and programs display a clear research focus. Few, if any, formal consortium sessions are devoted to teaching. On a 5-point scale across all consortia, respondents awarded a mean 2.80 rating to teaching activities.

Our review of consortium programs indicates that many consortia devote time to career management. On a 5-point scale, respondents awarded a mean 3.7 rating to career management activities. Although few formal consortium sessions are devoted to networking, consortium participants place a very high value on the networking opportunities provided by DC attendance. On a five-point scale, respondents awarded a mean 3.9 rating to networking activities, the highest overall rating for consortium value.

Overall, our respondents derive the most value from the research, networking, and career management activities at DC. Thus, AAA-sponsored consortia appear to be achieving their goals of stimulating research and providing opportunities for doctoral students to interact with each other and with senior faculty. However, to the extent consortia seek to address teaching-related issues, our respondents do not perceive value from these consortium activities.

Limitations and Suggestions for Future Research

This study has several limitations, which provide opportunities for additional research. DC require large investments of time and money. Yet, there is no centralized site where consortium planners can access a synthesis of best practices or learn about sources for funding consortia. Planners must invest additional efforts in structuring programs and seeking resources than otherwise might be necessary. Sharing information on funding sources might enable consortia planners to better coordinate efforts.

One benefit of many segment DC is that student attendees may register for midyear and region meetings at reduced cost. Meeting registration fees are commonly reduced or waived and lodging is available for free for one or more nights, making attendance at research meetings possible for students who might not otherwise attend. Future research could investigate the types of cost reductions by sections and regions for meetings and accommodations, to determine which are most effective for encouraging participation.

This survey collects attendees’ perceived short-term benefits of participating in DC. While those benefits are important, anecdotal evidence suggests that some individuals build professional networks from their DC contacts that last years. We cannot determine those or other long-term potential benefits from our current data.

Finally, there are many unanswered questions future studies could investigate with respect to strategies employed at DC. For example, what are key topics regularly presented and how are faculty presenters selected? Do faculty presenters typically come from certain universities with certain credentials? How could accounting professionals contribute in meaningful ways to DC? What are the most important concerns about DC and how are they addressed by consortium organizers? In addition, what are likely challenges for DC in the future?

Recommendations

This section of the chapter highlights potential areas for improving DC effectiveness and makes recommendations to consortium planners and sponsoring organizations. DC also provide opportunities to make progress on building a learned profession through integration of accounting research, education, and practice, elevating teaching, reforming accounting education, and building more robust accounting curricula. These are recommendations from the Pathways Commission 2012 report, “Charting a National Strategy for the Next Generations of Accountants.” DC experiences may also provide a means to increase research relevance. The AAA Research Relevance Taskforce (2018) defines research relevance as research of interest to academics in other fields, to students, accounting practitioners, accounting regulators, corporate executives, investors, and the public.

Length of DC and Mix of Sessions

DC planners may find our results useful for planning future sessions. For example, the consortia with the lowest overall research ratings are PI and FAR. As shown in Table 2, these consortia are shorter in length than many others. Planners should consider whether the participant satisfaction reflected in Table 4 is sufficient, given the time invested. Would longer consortia improve participant satisfaction? Would a different mix of sessions be desirable? Individual satisfaction ratings might shed light on the impact of various research sessions.

Research Sessions

Respondents make numerous suggestions related to research coverage in future DC. Many of their suggestions focus on details of the research process, a desire for one-on-one feedback on their own research, and more small-group interaction with other students and faculty with similar research interests. Respondents also note a need for greater diversity in faculty participation, seeking coverage of diverse research methodologies as well as representation from a broader group of universities. We encourage consortium planners to consider this feedback when planning future consortium agendas.

Teaching Sessions

Our review of consortium programs highlights limited attention to teaching at most of the DC examined. Some might argue that DC focused on research methods, such as ABO, or consortia focused on a topical area such as PI that is not included in most schools’ accounting curricula, need not offer teaching sessions. However, if participants in these consortia do not attend other DC with teaching sessions, they might suffer from this gap in their DC experience. Teaching sessions would be particularly helpful at subject matter-focused consortia, such as accounting information systems, auditing, financial reporting, management accounting, or tax, or at the AAA consortium.

Results indicate the teaching sessions offered at past consortia are not perceived as helpful. Yet, our respondents seem to desire teaching coverage, through their suggestions for improvement of future DC. We encourage planners to consider opportunities to incorporate teaching issues into consortium programs, in a meaningful way. To date, many of the teaching sessions offered address issues such as synergies between teaching and research. It appears consortium participants perceive such sessions as more relevant to research than teaching. Respondents seek teaching-specific advice to help them make a strong start in their academic careers. Specifically, respondents recommend discussing how to balance teaching and research demands, time management related to new course preparations and multiple course preparations, teaching techniques, and sessions geared toward those pursuing careers at more teaching-oriented schools.

Career Management, Networking, and Integration

Respondents also offer many suggestions for future consortia related to career management and networking. In particular, career advice from faculty at schools similar to where the students expect to be placed is an important need. Opportunities to network in small groups, with faculty and participants with similar interests, are also suggested.

We encourage DC planning committees to contemplate how their programs could address Pathways recommendations for an integrated approach to research, teaching, and practice. The DC we reviewed devote little or no formal session time to issues associated with accounting practice. Planners might consider panel sessions with master researchers, master teachers, and accounting professionals to address integration. More discussion of practice issues also provides opportunities to discuss research relevance. We see little evidence that prior consortia have devoted significant time to this issue. In addition, what better time to address elevating the role of teaching and the need for faculty development than in the infancy of new academic careers?

Ratzinger-Sakel and Gray (2015) explore the Pathways integration approach in relation to research in auditing and identify a number of gaps between existing auditing research and important issues facing the auditing profession. This work may help auditing consortium planners in crafting consortium topics that directly address both integration and research relevance.

Enhancing Doctoral Education

Our results suggest opportunities for the AAA to enhance doctoral education in ways that support its strategic vision. As part of its “Sharpening our Vision” project, the AAA created a Center for Advancing Accounting Education. Among the Center’s goals are to continuously improve learning and teaching experiences while increasing venues for learning and sharing of best teaching practices. This Center is an important investment by the AAA, and clearly supports recommendations made by the Pathways Commission. Specifically, this Center responds to the Pathways (2012, p. 33) recommendation to “Reform accounting education so that teaching is respected and rewarded as a critical component in achieving each institution’s mission.” We encourage the AAA and Center director to carefully consider how this Center might support the teaching education needs of doctoral students. Such support might include Center-sponsored webinars or conferences for doctoral students focused on teaching. Alternatively, the Center could design and conduct teaching sessions at existing DC.

Teaching Initiatives

AAA and its sections currently support several initiatives focused on teaching, including Conferences on Teaching and Learning Accounting (CTLA), the Audit Boot Camp, the AIS Educators Conference, and the ATA Educators Conference. CTLA are targeted at faculty and doctoral students looking for opportunities to refine their teaching talents and perfect their craft in teaching accounting. CTLA are held at AAA regional meetings and the AAA annual meeting. These conferences often include sessions focused on doctoral students. We recommend CTLA sponsors do more to target doctoral student participation, including distributing information about CTLA as part of DC programs. CTLA planners might consider additional conference offerings adopting a DC format with a teaching focus.

The Audit Boot Camp, AIS Educators Conference, and ATA Educators Conference focus on issues associated with teaching auditing, accounting information systems, and taxation, respectively. To our knowledge, these conferences do not target doctoral students, or offer sessions specifically for doctoral students. We encourage these conference planning committees to consider how they might assist in preparing doctoral students for the challenges of teaching in these sub-disciplines. Planners should ensure that calls for participation in these conferences are reaching appropriate doctoral students and the timing for these education conferences and DC are coordinated so that they do not conflict. Alternatively, portions of teaching conferences could be video-taped and made available to doctoral students.

The AAA strategic vision project also calls for creation of a Center for Advancing Accounting Research, which has not yet occurred. As this initiative moves forward, we challenge leadership of that new Center to consider the needs of doctoral students. This Center might take on initiatives such as the research mentor program suggested by our respondents or develop a process for doctoral students to identify and connect with others with shared research interests. The European Accounting Association has created an Accounting Research Center that offers feedback on research projects of new scholars. The AAA Center for Advancing Accounting Research might consider a similar program.

Finally, purposeful integration of accounting research, education, and practice, as recommended by the Pathways Commission, may require a new Center with resources and programs promoting integration. Such a center could be similar to the Center for Audit Quality. This approach could help integrate research with practice and perhaps create grant opportunities as well as support interactions between academics and professionals.

AAA-sponsored DC clearly provides considerable value to participants. The recommendations made here are intended to extend and enhance this value, solidifying the link between doctoral education and the AAA’s goal of providing global thought leadership in accounting. Through these efforts, AAA and its segments can attract and retain doctoral student members. These future leaders of our profession are critical to achieving Pathways recommendation 1, to “build a learned profession for the future by purposeful integration of accounting research, education, and practice for students, accounting practitioners, and educators.”

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Acknowledgments

We thank Mary Barth, David Boynton, Beth Kern, Lillian Mills, Timothy Rupert, David Stout, Teri Yohn, two anonymous reviewers, and Editor Thomas Calderon for their suggestions, assistance, and feedback on this study.