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The "Bright Star" of B-School Research: Finance

While other academic fields lie almost fallow — drawing criticism for lack of relevance — examples abound of finance research that makes a difference.

Roy Harris, | US
March 27, 2008

Practical Experience and Research Data

I think the two main limiting reagents to more robust research are practical experience and research data. The Director of Research at the University of Tennessee; Dr. Joseph V. Carcello, CPA, CIA, CMA; notes, "many of the new accounting Ph.D.s are not CPAs and have little, if any, experience in the profession" (Testimony Before the Treasury Department Advisory Committee on the Auditing Profession, December 3rd 2007). He believes the lack of experience has eroded the quality of PhDs. Practical experience before graduate school and through sabbatical programs can improve research quality. Many PhD programs view practical experience as a positive in the admissions process. Universities should also encourage faculty to take sabbaticals in corporate or professional business settings. To be sure, financial contraints and corporate sponsorship limit sabbatical programs. Research data can also limit the quality and quantity of research. According to Dr. Ira Solomon, Chair of the Department of Accountancy at the University of Illinois, "the highly constrained availability of data" has limited auditing research (Testimony Before the Treasury Department Advisory Committee on the Auditing Profession, December 3rd 2007). Dr. Solomon suggested data "annonymization", to protect private firm data, as a potential solution. Dr. Carcello also indicated that a lack of data hampered auditing research. While my comments relate primarily to auditing research, they can be extrapolated to other fields. Finance research benefits from mounds of empirical data that can be manipulated by creative finance PhDs. Other disciplines are not as lucky. Another conclusion drawn from comments is that corporations need to reach out to the academic community with financial contributions, sponsorships, and research data. However, I fear that academic research, a public good, will always fall prey to the Tragedy of Commons. Academic research, as a whole, will always fall short of public needs.

Posted by Hassen Shawaf | March 27, 2008 06:22 pm

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