Posts Tagged ‘Mark Holtzblatt’

Last year, the Accounting Today published its list of the Top 100 Most Influential People in [American] Accounting on September 9, 2010.  I don’t know that it ever causes a stir, but we talked about it on AECM.  AECM is the e-mail listserv for accounting professors (with a membership of 750).  We wondered why no one from the academic side of accounting made the list (or ever makes the list, for that matter).  Upon closer examination, it turned out that Frank Ross (Howard U) made the list.  Bob Jensen contacted the editor and suggested the names of 20 academics for the 2011 list.

It’s an interesting question, I think, as to who should qualify to be on the list.  The accounting industry in the U.S. is so large, certainly over 1,000,000.  There are auditors, accountants, thought leaders, professors and students who are all directly part of it.  Then there are those who are indirectly related, such as companies/investors that benefit from using accounting information, businesses that serve the accounting industry, journalists, bloggers, government regulators and even tax collectors.  And what about those Europeans who have their IFRS, FRC and the EC?  And should the person’s contribution be for only the most recent 12 months, recent years, or a lifetime of activity?  And what about fraudsters who influence the accounting industry?

For that matter, what does it mean to be to have been influenced?  I look at the list and I wonder how the honorees influenced me?  I have heard of almost none of them.  Does being influential mean having had an impact?

I’m sure the editorial staff at Accounting Today has grappled with these questions over the years, time and time again.

A short while ago, I was asked who I would say are the most influential.  Here are the people in the accounting world who have influenced me the most in the past year.


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Today is Wednesday, August 5.  It’s all over except for a few meetings.  The commercial exhibitor’s hall is already closed.  The career center interview room is open only for a few hours.  Some professors have left already, others are leaving throughout the day.  Only a few remain until tomorrow.

I only meet with representatives from four prospective schools today.  By noon, I’m ready for a real conference activity:  large luncheon where the 2010-2011 chair (Kevin Stocks, BYU) reflects on the past year, and then hands over the gavel to the 2011-2012 chair (Greg Waymire, Emory).

Kevin Stocks suggested the idea for collecting donations for back to school supplies for homeless children in the Denver area.  The AAA staff worked diligently in planning and seeking donations from the AAA membership.  Eventually, enough was raised for 507 backpacks filled with school supplies.

A pile of donated backpacks filled with school supplies for Denver school age children.

Stocks also focused our attention on the AAA staffers who have put in long hours.  I agree.  Our AAA staffers are wonderful.  I wish I had a group picture to show you.

Then Greg Waymire, the 2011-2012 president, spoke.  His message is about the need for increased accounting research.  Waymire has always been focused on research.  His Ph.D. is from the University of Chicago, in economics.  He has conducted capital markets research, trying to link stock market reactions to various events that appeal to economics, finance and accounting theorists.  Such a research record is typical of one who graduates from, then works for one of the top research universities.  Many professors and practitioners criticize such research as not relevant to the real world or accounting.

This sparked a discussion on AECM, the e-mail listserv for accounting professors.  Dan Stone, Gatton Endowed Chair (Professor) at Univ. of Kentucky, said, “Goodness, the things that American-trained “accounting” academics consider accounting these days will always puzzle and amaze me.”

Denny Beresford, former Chairman of the FASB and now a professor at University of Georgia, agreed.  He said that the research papers presented at the University of Georgia seldom have anything to do with accounting (and wouldn’t you expect the former Chair of the FASB to know something about what is accounting?).  He wondered if Waymire was sounding a call to be more relevant.  I disagreed, “… he was arguing for a continuation of big school research, albeit with a broader horizon. I didn’t hear a call to turn toward the real world.”

Then Paul Williams, North Carolina State, entered the discussion:

Back in the early days of the JAR (Journal of Accounting Research) conferences when practice people were invited to participate the tough questions were often posed by the practitioners. Since the answers to these questions pose serious challenges to the appropriateness of the methodology, conference organizers solved the problem by simply excluding practitioners. [Denny} you are correct that the paper you referred [from UGA] has nothing to do with accounting and, for reasons that would take too long to elaborate here, nothing to do with any kind of reality that impinges on the actual lives we live. The activity of the accountics “scholars” has raised significant issues of jurisdiction for the profession as increasingly we share the domain of accounting with so-called valuation experts.

Never-the-less, Williams found promise in Waymire’s speech, “I was most encouraged by Greg Waymire’s remarks at the business meeting. A window is open (I think) for people like Denny to have an effect by expressing themselves more openly and confidently.”

At this point, I entered the discussion again:

The new president of the AAA, Greg Waymire, said during his first presidential speech on Wednesday noon, that we needed more diversity in accounting research. He said that the needs of the FASB should not motivate our research, too much research is being done for them. He mentioned several reasons/recipients of accounting research. Nothing he said implied the need for a link between accounting research and either practitioners or investor users.

Williams later e-mailed me, saying that he had consulted with several in attendance and I correctly had interpreted the speech.

Conclusion: many professors think that the world of academic accounting is sick and in danger of expiration.  Waymire doesn’t appear ready to help seek a cure.

I concluded my conference with a quick dash to hear a presentation by Mark Holtzblatt and Norbert Tschakert, 2011 winners of the Innovations in Accounting Education award.  They have pioneered student creation of accounting videos.  They are good friends of mine.

Mark Holtzblatt (L) and Norbert Tschakert (R)

Debit and credit –  – David Albrecht

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