Bylaws Discussion: Next Steps

of the Governance Review Task Force

This is a public Custom Hive  public


    Julie Smith David
    I believe the AAA is Open and Inclusive
    discussion posted December 19, 2010 by Julie Smith David, last edited December 19, 2010 
    I believe the AAA is Open and Inclusive

    The American Accounting Association is Open and Inclusive

    I believe the American Accounting Association is open and inclusive.  But I haven’t always felt this way.  When I joined the AAA in 1994 I was a PhD student, specializing in Accounting Information Systems, passionate about industry and teaching.  During my first few years, I was part of a community that felt disenfranchised, under appreciated, and isolated.  We could have left the AAA (there was discussion to focus our volunteer efforts on the Association for Information Systems), withered away, or grumbled (which we did!).  Or we could have worked hard to strengthen our section, support our colleagues, and voice our concerns.  More recently, I believe things have changed.  Just consider that the former President of the AAA (Nancy Bagranoff) is a former president of the IS section.  Just consider that there is an AIS scholar (Jim Hunton) on the TAR editorial review board.  Just consider that TAR actually has begun to publish AIS articles (we need to be submitting more and publishing more –but the tide has turned!)  Members of the IS section are no longer the “lunatic fringe;” they have a voice and are included in the leadership team!

    I believe that the AAA respects all of its members and values their opinions.  Consider how the Annual Meeting has changed – and the opportunities it has given all of our members to participate.  Ten years ago, there were 113 concurrent sessions at the Annual Meeting; this year there were 359.  Ten years ago, there was a great focus on research, but a sense that teaching wasn’t as respected or valued;  this year the Conference on Teaching and Learning sold out at the Annual Meeting and will be part of each Regional Meeting.  As an Association, ten years ago, there were 14 sections; this year there are 16 with the inclusion of Diversity and FIA (demonstrating inclusion of both workforce/member issues and the breadth of the accounting domain).  And the result of these efforts?  In 2000, 2,459 people attended the Annual Meeting; in 2010:  2,903 attended!  Ten years ago, there were 8,448 members, but the trend was negative, continuing until 2004 when there were only 8,003 members.  Today (in the worst economic times for our generation) we are back to 8,310 members.  I believe that with thoughtful leadership and dedication to our mission, the positive trend can continue!

    To support these efforts, I believe the AAA is making investments to enhance transparency and provide a voice to every member – regardless of their institution, interests, or country of residence. 

    I believethat the AAACommons is an excellent example of this (which will not be a surprise to anyone, given my passion for that strategic initiative).  The AAACommons is a benefit to every member, allowing every member to voice their opinion – rather than limiting conversation to segment leaders who can send e-mails on behalf of their section/region or to individuals and organizations with the resources required to create their own mailing list that allows them to send unsolicited messages to a subset of our members.   This fact is one of the very reasons I remain committed to continuing to learn about on-line collaborative environments and to work to evolve ours into a vibrant reflection of our members.

    As a result, I respect and appreciate every post and comment made into the AAACommons.  I know that it is difficult to craft the perfect message that you know has the potential to be viewed by over 8,000 intelligent, respected individuals (believe me, I’m struggling with that as I write this!), but I think it is critically important to healthy discourse to have a safe place where we can share our reasoned thoughts – and concerns and criticisms.  At the same time, I think it’s critical that we remember to respect our colleagues, and value their opinions, even though we may not agree with them in the final analysis.

    The changes and initiatives I have seen in the AAA lead me to believe in our governance structure.  Currently there are two efforts underway, illustrating the breadth and openness of our current structure.  One proposal is the result of members working together to gather support for a change, and making that proposal to the Association (to read about this proposal, click here: and review the comment posted by Larry Crumbly).  The other has been initiated by the Executive Committee when they saw that our structure wasn’t supporting our Strategic Plan (which is available here: ).  This demonstrates that our current structure allows for both the “grass roots” and the “leadership-lead” approaches to change, and all members are able to be engaged in this process as it unfolds.

    In light of this, I believe in the process that is underway for our “leadership-initiated” by-laws review.  First, the task force was established with members from diverse set of sections and regions, each with a strong understanding of their constituents and organizational issues.  Second, I believe that the task force has analyzed and evaluated our current by-laws, those of peer institutions, and the suggestions made from members throughout the process.  Just looking at the timeline they have included with their proposal, I see that they sought input early in the process, broadening the community of discourse as the process has continued.  As an elected council member, I saw first hand that the document has evolved as a result of member feedback.  Therefore, I believethat the Governance Review Task Force has weighed the trade offs and worked to craft a governance structure that will support our strategy.

    I also believein the process for the “grass roots” initiative.  I respect all members who take the time to consider the options and make suggestions, following the procedures in our by-laws.  I appreciate that this proposal has been shared on the AAACommons, so it is available to all members.

    I believe that members still have a voice in the governance proposals. I know that the Governance area will be changing to provide members with all initiatives under consideration in one place, so that everyone has the opportunity to be informed and vote on the structure.

    Saying that I believe in the process and that I appreciate and respect the member efforts does not mean that I automatically agree with all aspects of either proposal (in other words, I am not “giving them a grade” for their efforts).  I know that I will agree with parts of the by-laws change proposals, and I will disagree with others.  I also know that as an elected member of council, I will have one more opportunity to reflect on the leadership-initiated proposal and vote on whether to have that move forward for a membership vote.  As the undesignated council member, I will take into account any correspondence in the Commons – or to me directly.  If the leadership-initiated proposal moves forward, I, as an individual member, will also be happy to share my overall thoughts on the proposals.  In the end, just as every member has the right, I will cast my vote in the hopes that we continue to strengthen our structure to support our mission – and to provide the most amazing opportunities to all of our members, just as I have been able to participate in some in the recent years!

    I encourage everyone who has plowed through this essay to review the governance discussions (click here to see the work leading up to the annual meeting) and to voice your opinions about all proposals – both the strengths you see in the proposals and any concerns you have with them.