Pathways Documents

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    Bruce K Behn
    Pathways Commission Report, July 2012
    report posted July 30, 2012 by Bruce K Behn, tagged commission, final 
    11314 Views, 5 Comments
    Pathways Commission Report, July 2012

    Report cover

    report date:
    July 1, 2012
    Pathways, Accounting, Education, Future, AICPA, American Accounting Association, AAA, Pathways Commission

    The Pathways Commission announces the release of its report. Click here to download a PDF.

    This report summarizes two years of collective effort by over 50 individuals representing a diverse array of stakeholders in a broadly defined accounting profession – encompassing public and corporate accounting, education, and government.    The impetus for this project came from the US Department of the Treasury’s Advisory Committee on the Auditing Profession (ACAP) report recommending that the American Accounting Association (AAA) and American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) study the possible future structure of higher education for the accounting profession.

    With a mission to consider accounting education and the accounting profession in the broadest sense, the Commission’s recommendations are expansive in scope; they demonstrate the need to address difficult and persistent issues and impediments so that the discipline and profession of accounting can better meet the challenges and opportunities of the future.

    Commission Chair, Bruce Behn, Ergen Professor at the University of Tennessee, led this project, and the sponsors plan to continue their support for the next three years, with Bill Ezzell, Deloitte, LLP (retired), and Mark Higgins, Dean and Alfred J. Verrecchia and Hasbro Inc. Leadership Chair in Business at the University of Rhode Island will co-chair implementation efforts



    • Robert E Jensen

      The AAA's Pathways Commission Accounting Education Initiatives Make National News
      Accountics Scientists Should Especially Note the First Recommendation

      "Accounting for Innovation," by Elise Young, Inside Higher Ed, July 31, 2012 ---

      Accounting programs should promote curricular flexibility to capture a new generation of students who are more technologically savvy, less patient with traditional teaching methods, and more wary of the career opportunities in accounting, according to a report released today by the Pathways Commission, which studies the future of higher education for accounting.

      In 2008, the U.S. Treasury Department's  Advisory Committee on the Auditing Profession recommended that the American Accounting Association and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants form a commission to study the future structure and content of accounting education, and the Pathways Commission was formed to fulfill this recommendation and establish a national higher education strategy for accounting.

      In the report, the commission acknowledges that some sporadic changes have been adopted, but it seeks to put in place a structure for much more regular and ambitious changes.

      The report includes seven recommendations:

      • Integrate accounting research, education and practice for students, practitioners and educators by bringing professionally oriented faculty more fully into education programs.

      • Promote accessibility of doctoral education by allowing for flexible content and structure in doctoral programs and developing multiple pathways for degrees. The current path to an accounting Ph.D. includes lengthy, full-time residential programs and research training that is for the most part confined to quantitative rather than qualitative methods. More flexible programs -- that might be part-time, focus on applied research and emphasize training in teaching methods and curriculum development -- would appeal to graduate students with professional experience and candidates with families, according to the report.

      • Increase recognition and support for high-quality teaching and connect faculty review, promotion and tenure processes with teaching quality so that teaching is respected as a critical component in achieving each institution's mission. According to the report, accounting programs must balance recognition for work and accomplishments -- fed by increasing competition among institutions and programs -- along with recognition for teaching excellence.

      • Develop curriculum models, engaging learning resources and mechanisms to easily share them, as well as enhancing faculty development opportunities to sustain a robust curriculum that addresses a new generation of students who are more at home with technology and less patient with traditional teaching methods.

      • Improve the ability to attract high-potential, diverse entrants into the profession.

      • Create mechanisms for collecting, analyzing and disseminating information about the market needs by establishing a national committee on information needs, projecting future supply and demand for accounting professionals and faculty, and enhancing the benefits of a high school accounting education.
      • Establish an implementation process to address these and future recommendations by creating structures and mechanisms to support a continuous, sustainable change process.

      According to the report, its two sponsoring organizations -- the American Accounting Association and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants -- will support the effort to carry out the report's recommendations, and they are finalizing a strategy for conducting this effort.

      Hsihui Chang, a professor and head of Drexel University’s accounting department, said colleges must prepare students for the accounting field by encouraging three qualities: integrity, analytical skills and a global viewpoint.

      “You need to look at things in a global scope,” he said. “One thing we’re always thinking about is how can we attract students from diverse groups?” Chang said the department’s faculty comprises members from several different countries, and the university also has four student organizations dedicated to accounting -- including one for Asian students and one for Hispanic students.

      He said the university hosts guest speakers and accounting career days to provide information to prospective accounting students about career options: “They find out, ‘Hey, this seems to be quite exciting.’ ”

      Jimmy Ye, a professor and chair of the accounting department at Baruch College of the City University of New York, wrote in an email to Inside Higher Ed that his department is already fulfilling some of the report’s recommendations by inviting professionals from accounting firms into classrooms and bringing in research staff from accounting firms to interact with faculty members and Ph.D. students.

      Ye also said the AICPA should collect and analyze supply and demand trends in the accounting profession -- but not just in the short term. “Higher education does not just train students for getting their first jobs,” he wrote. “I would like to see some study on the career tracks of college accounting graduates.”

      Mohamed Hussein, a professor and head of the accounting department at the University of Connecticut, also offered ways for the commission to expand its recommendations. He said the recommendations can’t be fully put into practice with the current structure of accounting education.

      “There are two parts to this: one part is being able to have an innovative curriculum that will include changes in technology, changes in the economics of the firm, including risk, international issues and regulation,” he said. “And the other part is making sure that the students will take advantage of all this innovation.”

      The university offers courses on some of these issues as electives, but it can’t fit all of the information in those courses into the major’s required courses, he said.

      Continued in article

      Bob Jensen's threads on Higher Education Controversies and Need for Change ---

      The sad state of accountancy doctoral programs ---

      How Accountics Scientists Should Change: 
      "Frankly, Scarlett, after I get a hit for my resume in The Accounting Review I just don't give a damn"
      One more mission in what's left of my life will be to try to change this 

    • Dick Riley

      Dr. Behn, Pathways Commissioners

      I have read much of the Pathways Commission report.  Nice job.  Given the scope, the large group and the diversity of views, your ability to come to a consensus is remarkable!

      I particularly like chapter 4 on the "detailed action items."  To me, this is the heart and real value of the effort.  This provides a wonderful road map for implementing the recommendations.

      In that regard, three relatively brief comments:

      1. With regard to Recommendation 1, Objective 3, West Virginia University (WVU) hosts the Institute for Fraud Prevention (IFP).  This is an Industry / University cooperative (501-3-C) focused on research.  The IFP provides funding and free data to support research and the research is directed / approved by practitioner Members of the IFP.  Please see the first page of the website for an overview.

      In 4 years, the IFP has supported (funded or provided data) for 25 research projects.

      2.  Action Item 3.3.2: Establish a national center for accounting education excellence.

      This seems to be an excellent opportunity for the American Accounting Association?

      3. Chapter 6: Appendix A.  We used this exact model (industry / university partnership) to create the model curriculum for forensic accounting and fraud examination (FAFE) for the Department of Justice's National Institute of Justice.  See

      Also, this is the hallmark of WVU's FAFE graduate certificate and new PhD program.  Please see the "Intellectual Contributors" in the following 1-page summary of our accomplishments called "From a Hill to a Mountain."

      These FAFE initiatives also meet many of the other, more detailed recommendations and action items suggested in the Pathways Commission Report.  My point is that what you and your commission recommend is not / was not beyond the realm of possibility.  We did have one facilitating benefit: we didn't have any baggage related to "this is how we have always done it."  I.e., we had no resistance to change because we started with a blank slate.  Nevertheless, what you recommend is possible!

      Again, excellent work!!!

      Dick Riley, CPA, PhD, CFE
      Louis F. Tanner Distinguished Professor
           of Public Accounting
      College of Business & Economics
      West Virginia University
      1600 University Avenue - Rm 303
      PO Box 6025
      Morgantown, WV 26506-6025
      (304) 293-7849

    • Robert E Jensen

      Getting Top Academic Researchers More Interested in Clinical Research:  Medical Schools Lead the Way

      Theodor (Ted) Seuss Geisel ---

      This morning in a doctor's office waiting room I read a magazine that I'd never seen before --- Dartmouth Medicine, Fall 2012.---

      The Dartmouth medical school is called the Theodor Geisel School of Medicine in honor of the millions of dollars and in some cases the clinical research and teaching guidance of his gifts to various disciplines at Dartmouth College.. Theodor (Ted) Seuss Geisel is best known for his children's books written under the pen names Dr. Seuss, Theo LeSieg and, in one case, Rosetta Stone. But in Hanover New Hampshire he's best known

      On Page 11 of the Fall 2012 issue I noted the following from a "Rothstein Named Chair of Medicine"::

      . . .

      "The Department of Medicine has incredible strength in its programs, faculty, staff, and trainees," says Rothstein. "Many of the leaders in education at Geisel are medicine faculty, and our clerkships and electives are consistently well regarded. Many Geisel students choose careers in internal medicine in part, we believe, because of the role-modeling and supportive educational experiences they received on rotations in our department."

      In his new role as chair of medicine, Rothstein is working with colleagues from Geisel and the Tuck School of Business to create a clinical and research program that will focus on the problem of obesity. A second project is a collaboration with the Association of American Medical Colleges that will help patients, families, and clinicians better address care decisions at times of serious illness and the end of life.

      "It is clearly a challenging time to lead a large academic department and I appreciate the opportunity to do so," Rothstein says. "We will face the future together as a team with energy and enthusiasm, and we are destined for success."


      "The Meaning of a Name," by Donald Pease, Dartmouth Medicine, Fall 2012,  (which also has a picture of a Cat in a Hat).---


      Page 28

      . . .

      Although the naming of the Medical School marked the greatest benefaction in Dartmouth's history, it was in fact Ted Geisel's second remarkable act of philanthropy. In 1969, to celebrate the bicentennial of Dartmouth's founding, Geisel endowed the Ted and Helen Geisel Third Century Professorship in the Humanities. The professorship was also designed to bridge an imagined gap separating the research produced in the graduate programs and professional schools from teaching in the undergraduate classroom. The 1969 Geisel professorship removed the perceived antagonism between the classroom teacher and the research scholar by underscoring how crucial this interdependent relationship was to the educated imagination of Dartmouth's students. In 2012, the Geisel name removed the invisible yet recalcitrant barrier separating Dartmouth's undergraduate and graduate sectors, and it will foster collaborative research ventures among Dartmouth's students and faculty in the Arts and Sciences, the Thayer School of Engineering, the Tuck School of Business, and the Geisel School of Medicine.


      Page 31  (which also has a picture of a Cat in a Hat)

      . . .

      Ted Geisel invented Dr. Seuss to find a voice and imagine words to cope with a world that distressed and sometimes terrified him. After complaining of a social life consisting entirely of doctors, Ted wrote You're Only Old Once in a fit of magical thinking. "If I can only stay out of the hospital," he told his personal physician, "I might live forever . . . and I can't go back to doctors after what I did to them in this book."

      Ted dedicated the book, "with affection and in affliction," to the surviving members of the Dartmouth Class of 1925. The Book of the Month club advertised it "for ages 95 and down." It sold more than one million copies the first year of publication. Imagine what would have happened—or where we'd be—if he'd written a book about lawyers.

      When news of his death reached Dartmouth 21 years ago, students and faculty began a spontaneous 24-hour vigil reading Dr. Seuss books around the clock outside College Hall as homage to the alumnus who had created a whole world. In its eulogy, Time magazine commemorated Ted Geisel as one of the last doctors to make house calls—"over 200 million of them in more than 20 languages."

      No matter whether we hail from the arts and sciences or Dartmouth's professional schools, all of us are Dr. Seuss babies. The bonds that renew our relationship to our work and to each other are animated at the juncture Audrey Geisel described as connecting "Ted's great love of his alma mater" and her "passion of caring for others" and communicated in the Onceler's injunction at the conclusion to The Lorax:

      Unless someone like you
      cares a whole awful lot,
      nothing is going to get better.
      It's not.

      What struck me is how Ted Geisel predated the 2012 Pathways Commission Report in accounting higher education which attempts to make accountics scientists more focused on clinical research in accountancy:
      2012 "Final" Pathways Commission Report ---
      Also see a summary at

      "Accounting for Innovation," by Elise Young, Inside Higher Ed, July 31, 2012 ---

      Some accountancy leaders contend that accountics research lost its way in failing to focus on classroom teachers and practicing accountants in public accounting, industry, and government.

      Essays on the State of Accounting Scholarship ---

      Perhaps when implementing the Pathways Commission resolutions for accounting researchers and teachers we should look to how medical schools are seeking to find new pathways toward clinical research by accountics scientists.

      How Accountics Scientists Should Change: 
      "Frankly, Scarlett, after I get a hit for my resume in The Accounting Review I just don't give a damn"
      One more mission in what's left of my life will be to try to change this


    • Robert E Jensen

      This is an award-winning clinical academic accounting research contribution to the profession of accountancy. It is totally within the spirit of the Pathways Commission initiatives ---

      "Scholars Receive American Accounting Association Award,"  by Terri Eyden, AccountingWeb, January 28, 2013 ---

      This January, the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) and Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) announced the recipients of the American Accounting Association's (AAA) Greatest Potential Impact on Management Accounting Practice Award for 2012. The award was presented to Ramji Balakrishnan, Eva Labro, and Konduru Sivaramakrishnan for their paper, Product Costs as Decision Aids: An Analysis of Alternative Approaches, which was published in Accounting Horizons, an AAA publication.

      The award was presented at the AAA 2013 Management Accounting Section Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana, January 10-12, 2013, by Anne Farrell, PricewaterhouseCoopers-endowed assistant professor chair in accountancy, Farmer School of Business, Miami University, Oxford, Ohio; chair of the selection committee; and AAA Management Accounting Section (MAS) liaison to the AICPA Business & Industry Executive Committee.

      According to the AICPA, the award recognizes academic papers that are considered the most likely to have a significant impact on management accounting practice. It is sponsored by the AICPA and CIMA, who are "working to elevate management accounting around the world and together created the Chartered Global Management Accountant (CGMA) designation to distinguish professionals who excel in the field."

      Eligible papers must have been published within the previous five years and submitted by the authors or nominated by peers. The sponsorship value is $2,000.

      Balakrishnan he and his colleagues are especially appreciative of both institutes' commitment to supporting academic research in the area of management accounting.

      "A lot of academic research in accounting today is in the realm of financial reporting, with a focus on publically listed firms for which extensive data sets are available for large-scale archival research," Balakrishnan said. "We are grateful for AICPA and CIMA's support of management accounting research because it provides the needed impetus to direct some of the research focus on measurement issues and decision tools that are key to enhancing operational efficiencies of any firm, whether public or private and of all sizes."

      The award was created in 2009 to support the next generation of management accounting researchers and to recognize the importance of research to practice and the profession. Management accounting is a core discipline for the institute's members in business, industry, and government, according to the AICPA.

      Continued in article

      Jensen Comment
      Although this research has not yet shown evidence of adoption in business firms around the world, it certainly becomes a candidate for addition to the following table.


      I would like to challenge subscribers of the AECM to fill out the following table:


      Invented by
      Accounting Professor

      1 Balanced Scorecard ---
      Bob Kaplan (shared invention)
      2 REA ---
      Bill McCarthy


      This challenge is very easy for practitioner clinical applications in medicine, natural science, social science, computer science, engineering, and finance. It's not so easy to find where inventions/discoveries by accounting professors made splashes in the practitioner pond. It might be questioned whether Bob Kaplan invented all the components of the popular Balanced Scorecard widely applied by corporations around the world. An earlier version in 1987 was invented by a practitioner named Art Schneiderman. But I think Bob Kaplan beginning in 1990 made so many seminal contributions to the scorecard that I will give him credit for the invention that made a huge splash in the practitioner pond.

      When I was the 1986 Program Director for NYC Annual Meetings of American Accounting Association I posed this challenge to Joel Demski to address in his plenary session (shared with Bob Kaplan). Joel suggested the practitioner applications of Dollar-Value LIFO. Subsequently, accounting historian Dale Flesher dug into this and discovered that DVL was invented by Herbert T. McAnly who retired in 1964 as a partner at Ernst & Ernst after 44 years with the firm

      The Seminal Contributions to Accounting Literature Award of the American Accounting Association are as follows ---

      2007 — "Relevance Lost: The Rise and Fall of Management Accounting"
      by H. Thomas Johnson and Robert S. Kaplan
      Harvard Business School Press 1987

      2004 — "Towards a Positive Theory of the Determination of Accounting Standards"
      by Ross L. Watts and Jerold L. Zimmerman
      The Accounting Review (January) 1978

      1994 — "Economic Incentives in budgetary Control Systems"
      by Joel S. Demski and Gerald A. Feltham
      The Accounting Review (April) 1978

      1989 — "Information Content of Annual Earnings Announcements"
      by William H. Beaver
      Journal of Accounting Research 1968

      1986 — "An Empirical Evaluation of Accounting Income Numbers"
      by Ray Ball and Philip Brown
      Journal of Accounting Research 1968

      These are all tremendous contributions to the academic side of accountancy. However, none of the inventions of Professors Demski and Feltham to my knowledge made a splash in the practitioner pond. ABC costing focused upon by Johnson and Kaplan made a splash in the practitioner pond, but ABC costing was invented by cost accountants at John Deere.

      The contributions of Watts, Zimmerman, Beaver, Ball, and Brown made splashes of sorts in the practice pond, but I have difficulty calling them seminal "inventions." In these instances the authors were extending into accounting inventions attributed earlier to professors and practitioners in economics and finance.

      There are many other accounting professors who made seminal contributions to the academic side of accountancy. For example, Yuji Ijiri is a Hall of Famer who had many noteworthy accountancy inventions. However, to my knowledge Yuji did not make a ripple in the practitioner pond except maybe for selected practitioners trying to fend against the takeover of historical cost accounting by fair value accounting. Many seminal inventions of Yuji, like the "Force," were just not deemed practical.

      My own published research is best described as extensions and/or applications invented by others ---
      To my knowledge none of my extensions made so much as a ripple in the practitioner pond.

      January 19, 2013 reply from Dan Stone

      A great idea.... which would probably be better in a research paper than on a list.

      Anna Cianci and Bob Ashton published a paper a few years ago demonstrating how the KPMG audit research support initiative led to changes in auditor / audit firm practices.

      So maybe:

      idea: the application of cognitive biases and decision aiding to audit practice Professors: a large cast many of whom got their PhD at Univ. of Illinois in the 1960s and 1970s including Bob Ashton, Bob Libby, Kathryn Kadous, and many, many others

      idea: the risk based audit Professors: KPMG monograph by Howard Thomas, Ira Solomon, Marc Peecher (along with many others)

      Dan Stone


      January 20, 2013 reply from Bob Jensen

      Hi Dan,

      Thanks for the added considerations.

      Among other things, your post suggests that some "inventions" do not have short names.

      Some of your suggestions do need further research into where credit can be given for the very first inventions of what eventually made a splash in the practitioner pond.

      For example, does anybody (Miklos?) on the AECM know of where the concept of Risk-Based Auditing had its original starting point? I fear that it may be like Dollar Based LIFO where accounting professors picked up on the seminal idea of a practitioner. For example, did some employee of the  Arthur Andersen accounting firm, that took risk-based auditing to its own demise, also invent the concept itself?

      Robert Knechel (University of Florida) supposedly traced the history of risk-based auditing, but I've not seen his paper in this regard.

      Bob Jensen


    • Ray J. Pfeiffer

      I want to thank the members of the Pathways Commission for the excellent and important work that they are doing on behalf of the accounting discipline.

      I would like to re-iterate and clarify comments I made during a discussion at the APLG meeting in early February in San Antonio.  To reiterate, I believe that the initiative to create an AP course in Accounting is a mistake.  With all due respect to those who have worked so hard to bring this about, and making clear that I support the objective of attracting students to the accounting profession, I am concerned that this is the wrong solution to the problem.

      Accounting is an applied discipline.  As such, it requires nuance in its presentation and learning.  Instructors with the perspective of advanced study of accounting issues and/or professional experience in accounting bring important context to bear on the world of accounting.  In addition, I believe that there are transformative benefits to students of acclimating to the rigors of college courses, studying, courses related to accounting (understanding human behavior, institutions, economics, and other business disciplines) and college life that students benefit from during their first year at college.  For this reason, many schools like ours do not introduce accounting until the sophomore year.

      While I am certain that there are thousands of well-intentioned, highly-skilled high school teachers who might be the ones teaching an AP accounting course, if those teachers lack the perspectives that would have been gained by professional experience and/or undergraduate and graduate study of accounting, I fear that students will be given an incomplete and perhaps misleading exposure to our discipline, thereby defeating the purpose of the AP course.

      For this reason, my institution, and I expect many others, will not permit a high-school level course to replace our first course in accounting.  This will be extremely frustrating to students and parents who pursue the AP course, expecting to receive college credit.

      The counter-arguments I received in the live meeting suggested that I was disrespecting high school teachers --- which I am clearly not.  My argument is simply that I don't expect even a talented high school teacher to be able to teach a discipline with which they have no basis of familiarity or expertise.  A second argument was the analogy that we accept other courses, such as statistics, where AP courses have been taken.  My response to that is that I expect that a much larger proportion of such AP courses are taught by teachers who have undergraduate or graduate education themselves in the discipline (e.g., math).  I don't expect very many high school teachers to hold the CPA designation, a master's degree in accounting, or even a business degree.

      Again, I am supportive of the objective of attracting students to us; I just hope that we do not continue down this mis-guided path toward accomplishing the goal.