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Moving Academic Management Accounting Research Closer to Practice: A View from US and Australian Professional Accounting Bodies

Advances in Management Accounting

ISBN: 978-1-78560-972-5, eISBN: 978-1-78560-971-8

Publication date: 23 November 2016



This paper compares and contrasts practice-based perceptions of the research–practice gap in the United States (US) with those in Australia.


The current study extends the work of Tucker and Lowe (2014) by comparing and contrasting their Australian-based findings with evidence from a questionnaire survey and follow-up interviews with senior representatives of 18 US state and national professional accounting associations.


The extent to which academic research informs practice is perceived to be limited, despite the potential for academic research findings to make a significant contribution to management accounting practice. We find similarities as well as differences in the major obstacles to closer engagement in the US and Australia. This comparison, however, leads us to offer a more fundamental explanation of the divide between academic research and practice framed in terms of the relative benefits and costs of academics engaging with practice.

Research implications

Rather than following conventional approaches to ‘bridging the gap’ by identifying barriers to the adoption of research, we suggest that only after academics have adequate incentives to speak to practice can barriers to a more effective diffusion of their research findings be surmounted.


This study makes three novel contributions to the “relevance literature” in management accounting. First, it adopts a distinct theoretical vantage point to organize, analyze, and interpret empirical evidence. Second, it captures practice-based views about the nature and extent of the divide between research and practice. Third, it provides a foundational assessment of the generalizability of the gap by examining perceptions of it across two different geographic contexts.




We express our appreciation to those representatives of professional bodies who participated in this study. This paper greatly has benefited greatly from the insightful and constructive comments of Jane Broadbent, Kim Langfield-Smith, Theresa Libby, Cheryl McWatters, Shane Dikolli, James Guthrie, Bob Kaplan, Richard Laughlin, Murray Lindsay, Alan Lowe, Ken Merchant, Sven Modell, Lee Parker, Stefan Schaltegger, and Mark Young, as well as the suggestions made by participants at the American Accounting Association, Management Accounting Section Research and Case Conference (2016).


Tucker, B.P. and Lawson, R. (2016), "Moving Academic Management Accounting Research Closer to Practice: A View from US and Australian Professional Accounting Bodies", Advances in Management Accounting (Advances in Management Accounting, Vol. 27), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 167-206.



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