The Role of Accounting Practice Experience and PhD Program in Subsequent Research

The Role of Accounting Practice Experience and PhD Program in Subsequent Research



Critical Perspectives on Accounting


The continuing decline in the number of accounting PhDs has been a source of increasing concern for the accounting profession for several decades now. One recurring proposal to mitigate this decline is the recruitment of accountants from practice into PhD programs. Successful accounting practitioners seem to share many characteristics with accounting academics. However, in one area the groups are substantially different: accounting academics, in general, have minimal experience in accounting practice. Extant research suggests that practitioners do well as teachers, but there is little evidence on what impact increasing accounting practice experience has on research productivity. Analyzing data on accounting experience and publication records for PhD graduates from 1990 to 2010, we find that more accounting practice experience is negatively associated with research productivity. Although PhD program prestige and the research environment of their first employer are significant factors in faculty research productivity, the negative association between practice experience and research productivity is robust to controlling for these factors. If the academy is to attract and retain practitioners to mitigate the accounting Ph.D. shortage, changes to reflect the value of accounting practice experience may be needed in Ph.D. admission criteria as well as the general set of acceptable publication outlets for promotion and tenure.