Retired accounting professor Tom Selling (Thunderbird) started the current discussion on October 11 at The Accounting Onion (I’ve raised the issue at least twice before on AECM), with his post, “Why Do Accounting Academics Blog Less Than Other Academics?” He said that it’s because profs don’t want to say anything that could negatively impact the Big 4 recruiting of their students.
There have been responses in four venues. None has disagreed with Selling’s central point, that accounting professors are far less likely to blog than counterparts in other business disciplines or practically any other academic field. They all throw out other reasons, and sometimes disagree with Selling’s suggested cause.
What follows is my current summary of the discussion.
First up is professor Mark Holtzman (Seton Hall) of the Accounting Ethicist on October 12, in “Why aren’t there more accounting professor bloggers?” He disagrees with Selling, saying,
I’m sorry to say that accounting doesn’t make for very interesting blogging. See any interesting tax footnotes lately? How ’bout that new FASB proposal? IFRS is already a joke – how many bloggers do we need to point that out? Here comes “Little GAAP.” Is there anything interesting to say about “Little GAAP?” And while I’m at it, have you ever seen the list of topics at a AAA meeting? There could be more accounting professor blogs, yes, but who would want to read all that cr@p? Needless to say, Accounting Onion and Summa are two happy exceptions. There are also re:the Auditors, Big 4 Blog, and Going Concern, very interesting and informative blogs, but these aren’t written by professors.
Next up is The Summa‘s reaction on October 13, “Tom Selling on Blogging.” I suggested that many accounting professors lack the necessary communication skills to blog, and also the lack of a direct monetary reward for blogging seems to conflict with certain characteristics that exist in the minds of accounting professors but not the minds of other professors.
Next up is the discussion on AECM on October 14. Bob Jensen (retired, Trinity U) suggested that some professors who might otherwise blog participate in AECM discussions instead. I think this is a good point, but there are many accounting profs who have never heard of AECM. Paul Polinski (Illinois) then jumped into the discussion and offered three reasons:
- “There are no formal incentives to do so, whereas there are clear formal incentives to continue to publish in journals to enhance the reputations of the school and the faculty member (i.e., many perceive it’s a non-value added time sink). Faculty view their time as better spent on activities that have direct and well understood benefits to them.
- “The already discussed fear of being branded as ‘anti-profession’ by colleagues and professionals, and potential loss of reputation for the department and the faculty member.
- ” ‘The market for excuses.’ I was somewhat taken aback by the attitude shift towards me when I left a tenure-track faculty spot to work for the firm. Almost immediately, many faculty treated me as if I was incapable of thinking independently and objectively because I worked for a firm, and my views and work would therefore (by assumption) be influenced singularly by firm management’s viewpoints. Most all research-active faculty with which I talked maintained an attitude that they must remain completely neutral in policy debates, lest they poison the well of objectivity. They view their sole duty as conducting research that would inform policy makers about the consequences of their policy choices, without making normative prescriptions or judgments. This made any discussion of policy with faculty difficult because of their unwillingness to engage in the debate itself.”
To which I opined,
It might very well be related to the disconnect between accounting research and the world of practice. Much of the elite accountics research at the current time has no tie to the real world (some of these researchers know little about real world dynamics). Certainly, the professional world disdains academic accounting research. If academic bloggers write about the topics for which they have passion, perhaps it is no surprise that they wouldn’t blog about the professional world. There is no market for their insights.
Enter the enticing Jr Deputy Accountant, Adrienne Gonzalez. Writing on October 17 for Going Concern, she says,
It’s not that *** boring.
Who would want to read about that crap? A lot of people, actually. I am amazed by the amount of traffic I get on accounting-related posts on Jr Deputy Accountant that are months or even years old. Are accountants on top of the news cycle? Well no, there is no news cycle … But accountants are just as interested in opinion and information as anyone, if not more.
More interesting than any of the above commenters are the three who responded to Adrienne’s question as to whether anyone is interested in reading an accounting professor’s blog:
- “I would rather hear from actual accountants than professors.”
- “Most CPAs would not consider professors to be their intellectual supriors. If anything, people applying accounting principles in the “real world” feel that academics are uninformed about the consequences of what they teach.”
Apparently accounting professors don’t blog for many reasons. And that’s all there is to say.
Debit and credit – - David Albrecht