The Accounting Professional of the Future: Never Mind the Quality, Check the Look!

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Watty, K and Jackling, Beverley (2008) The Accounting Professional of the Future: Never Mind the Quality, Check the Look! In: 2008 AFAANZ Conference, 6-8 July 2008, Sydney Australia.


Recent corporate collapses and evidence that questions the ability of accountants/auditors to discharge their duties in the public interest, has seen increasing concern expressed by some writers about the future of the accounting profession. The objective of this paper is to examine the relationship between employers’ expectations of the attributes of graduates and society’s expectations that accountants will act in the public interest. The study is based on legitimacy theory which indicates that society confers an organisation’s legitimacy when the entity’s value system is congruent with the value system of the larger social system. The changes in the attributes of accountants that are valued in the workplace increase the risk of severing the social contract between the organisation and society. Evidence from in-depth interviews with employers of accounting graduates indicates that they are looking for those who ‘fit the culture’ and have the ability to ‘market’ the firm to clients. This is in preference to the accounting graduate who may be a towering intellect but does not have the right ‘look’. Succumbing to employer calls for graduates with highly developed generic skills at the expense of technical proficiency has the potential to substantially change the accounting education curriculum and diminish the integrity and importance of discipline knowledge. It is in the interests of all stakeholders to carefully and thoughtfully discuss and debate the complex issues that accompany change of this nature to ensure a suitable balance is achieved.

Item type Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Official URL
Subjects Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > School of Accounting
Historical > FOR Classification > 1501 Accounting, Auditing and Accountability
Keywords ResPubID18665, accounting students, accountancy, employee fit, graduate employment
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