Peeling away financial reporting issues one layer at a time

Why Do Accounting Academics Blog Less Than Other Academics?

I'm honored to have been selected to give the keynote speech at the American Accounting Association's Northeast Region Meeting. I'm on right after breakfast on Friday, October 28th.

As you might have guessed, the topic I have been asked to speak on is IFRS adoption in the U.S. Later in the day, I will participate in a panel discussion on the same topic with a very senior partner from the KPMG's "Department of Professional Practice" and the current FASB Academic Fellow, Terry Iannaconi and Lynn Rees, respectively. I go way back with Terry and Lynn, and I am looking forward to being on a panel with both of them.

So as not to steal any 'thunder' away from my talk, I'm going to try and keep a lid on my criticisms of IFRS adoption until then. But, I will say that I plan to provide a point-by-point rebuttal of the latest arguments for IFRS adoption, which were made by its paid promoters, Hans Hoogervorst and Harvey Goldschmidt, at the latest AICPA-IASB love fest.

What I would like to address in this post, though, is a question that I have asked myself for a long time now, but now seems like the right time to write a post about it: why are there so few academic accountants who blog?

I decided to blog soon after I took early retirement from academia because it had recently emerged as an extremely convenient and direct approach for generating web content that might lead others to learn about the professional services I could provide. Back in 2007, blogging wasn't nearly as pervasive as it is now, and I was certain that my early mover advantage in the competition for visibility would soon dissipate. Surely, other accounting academics wanted to write about their own pet peeves, or to use the medium to have more of a role in important questions facing the profession and our students.

Given the popularity of blogging and the presence of so many bloggers from other academic disciplines — even ones close to accounting – like finance, economics and law – I think it is incumbent upon academic accountants to ask why there are so few bloggers in our field. The question is especially timely since the rise of blogging coincides with a time period perhaps like no other before it. Numerous questions of financial reporting policy are being debated with great urgency. There are IFRS questions, but there are also more fundamental questions about the role of financial reporting in society, particularly the extent to which financial reporting was responsible for, or could have prevent recent financial reporting crises – from the S&L debacle, to the collapses leading to S-OX, to the financial crisis of 2008, and Greek bonds. Auditing may also be on the cusp of tremendous change, there are specific accounting topics: the fair value and revenue recognition have tremendous implications.

As far as I can tell, there is only one difference between academic accounting and other academic disciplines that could explain the significant difference in blogging patterns: the job market for our (best) students is dominated by the Big Four.

There are certainly tradeoffs to blogging, but they all seem to be roughly the same across academic disciplines, except for the presence of the Big Four. For some reason, that appears to be a net negative in relation to blogging opportunities.

Could it be that blogging by accounting professors is detrimental to the career prospects of one's accounting students? I'm just asking.

 

7 Comments

  1. Reply Edith Orenstein October 12, 2011

    Tom,
    First, congrats on making AccountingToday’s Top 10 Blogs to Watch in 2011. I don’t always agree with your views, but your indepth analysis is exceptional and your views get people thinking.
    You raise an interesting point in your post today, by stating “the job market for our (best) students is dominated by the Big Four,” and asking the related question, “Could it be that blogging by accounting professors is detrimental to the career prospects of one’s accounting students?”
    I wonder if the same question could be pointed at the career prospects of the professors themselves, not in an indirect sense (as to placement of their students) but in the direct sense of paid consulting gigs and funded research.
    I’m not saying either of those are ‘bad,’ just that there is not always as much transparency about that, and this observation also bears on the reputation of academe as being ‘unbiased’ observers. Just sayin’

  2. Reply Kellen October 12, 2011

    I’m interested in becoming an accounting academic in the future (maybe), and I’ve always been unable to resist blogging. However, as a young CPA, while I find economics and finance blogs interesting, I’m not really as interested in an analysis of new laws and standards.
    I will say that this is changing as I get further into my career and get up to speed and more able to understand these debates over policy.
    However, maybe accounting academics just don’t think there’s much of an audience for what they have to say?
    Also, it’s a profession with a lot of rules and “fitting in” required, and I’m not sure that lends itself to creating bloggers.

  3. Reply Hong Le October 12, 2011

    Tom,
    Congratulations on the honor!
    I am grateful for the work that you have been doing on this blog. Despite a few disagreements with you (IFRS adoption in the US comes to mind), I am glad that you are able to continue posting and provide a great service to the profession.
    Much respect.

  4. Reply Ryan October 12, 2011

    I had a professor that would tell us stories about getting published in the most obscure publications, and HE would have to pay for the costs! It seems the blog format is ideally suited to intellectuals for a more public discourse. Paul Krugman is a great example of an economist that blogs several times a day on current issues. I guess accountants are too resistant to change.

  5. Reply Janet October 18, 2011

    Left-brained accountants may just be interested in doing their work and may have no desire to share their thoughts.

  6. Reply Independent Accountant October 20, 2011

    TS:
    I agree with Orenstein.
    IA

  7. Reply Virtual Backoffice November 10, 2011

    I agree with Kellen. While blogging is on the rise and works as a great marketing tool, there are certain topics that may be too in depth for the average reader. Because of this, I would have to assume that a number of accountants choose not to keep a blog about their professions.

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