Management And Accounting Web

The Pathways Commission. 2012. The Pathways Commission on Higher Education: Charting a National Strategy for the Next Generation of Accountants. American Accounting Association and American Institute of CPAs.

Summary by James R. Martin, Ph.D., CMA
Professor Emeritus, University of South Florida

PDF Version of the Report | Education Issues Main Page

The Pathways Commission report was produced by the AAA and AICPA to study the future structure of higher education for accounting and to develop recommendations for students, academics, and practitioners. The following recommendations and impediments are from the Executive Summary, pp. 10-15. A link to the full report appears above.


1. Build a learned profession for the future by purposeful integration of accounting research, education, and practice for students, accounting practitioners, and educators.

Objective 1.1: Integrate professionally oriented faculty more fully into significant aspects of accounting education, programs, and research.
Objective 1.2: Focus more academic research on relevant practice issues.
Objective 1.3: Enhance the value of practitioner-educator exchanges.
Objective 1.4: Integrate accounting research into accounting courses and programs.

2. Develop mechanisms to meet future demand for faculty by unlocking doctoral education via flexible pedagogies in existing programs and by exploring alternative pathways to terminal degrees that align with institutional missions and accounting education and research goals.

Objective 2.1: Allow flexible content and structure for doctoral programs.
Objective 2.2: Develop multiple pathways to terminal degrees in accounting.

3. Reform accounting education so that teaching is respected and rewarded as a critical component in achieving each institution’s mission.

Objective 3.1: Increase reward, recognition, and support for high-quality teaching.
Objective 3.2: Better connect faculty annual review, promotion, and tenure processes to the quality of teaching.
Objective 3.3: Improve how universities value the importance of teaching.

4. Develop curriculum models, engaging learning resources, and mechanisms for easily sharing them as well as enhancing faculty development opportunities in support of sustaining a robust curriculum.

Objective 4.1: Engage the accounting community to define the body of knowledge that is the foundation for accounting’s curricula of the future.
Objective 4.2: Implement curricular models for the future.
Objective 4.3: Develop guiding principles and support for a range of faculty development opportunities through varied career paths and cycles.

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

Objective 5.1: Enhance perceptions of the study of accounting and career opportunities in accounting.
Objective 5.2: Transform the first course in accounting.
Objective 5.3: Increase student access to master’s programs.
Objective 5.4: Develop financial aid literacy programs.
Objective 5.5: Encourage a separate and more focused study of the impediments to better diversity within the profession.

6. Create mechanisms for collecting, analyzing, and disseminating information about the current and future markets for accounting professionals and accounting faculty.

Objective 6.1: Establish a national committee on information needs.
Objective 6.2: Project future supply, demand, and competencies for accounting professionals.
Objective 6.3: Project future supply and demand for all accounting faculty in higher education.
Objective 6.4: Enhance the benefits of high school accounting education.

7. Convert thought to action by establishing an implementation process to address these and future recommendations by creating structures and mechanisms to transition accounting change efforts from episodic events to a more continuous, sustainable process.

Objective 7.1: Initiate a process that can sustain future accounting educational change efforts.

Impediments exist at institutional, program/department, and individual levels. Among the most significant impediments are:

1. failure to acknowledge what drives faculty to change,
2. inability to overcome the silo effect in many departments where curricula are viewed simply as collections of independent courses,
3. delays in incorporating effective practices in pedagogy because faculty lack experience, knowledge, and development opportunities,
4. the slow pace at which curricular change occurs within colleges and universities,
5. lack of flexibility in tenure processes and post tenure review focused primarily on research productivity,
6. lack of reward structures promoting student-centeredness and curricular innovation,
7. inability or unwillingness of deans and department chairs to implement change, and
8. lack of appreciation or understanding of the importance of sound pedagogy and professional relevance.

Without the commitment of accounting educators and practice colleagues to challenge the institutional cultures and structures at the root of these impediments, sustaining renewal and innovation in accounting education will continue to be limited. The Commission recommends actions to address these impediments, outlined in more detail in the full report.


Related summaries:

Bennis, W. G. and J. O'Toole. 2005. How business schools lost their way: Too focused on "scientific" research, business schools are hiring professors with limited real-world experience and graduating students who are ill equipped to wrangle with complex, unquantifiable issues - in other words, the stuff of management. Harvard Business Review (May): 96-104. (Summary).

Beyer, B., D. Herrmann, G. K. Meek and E. T. Rapley. 2010. What it means to be an accounting professor: A concise career guide for doctoral students in accounting. Issues In Accounting Education (May): 227-244. (Summary).

Bishop, C. C., D. M. Boyle, R. R. Clune and D. R. Hermanson. 2012. A different model for doctoral education in accounting and auditing: Student and faculty reflections. Current Issues in Auditing 6(1): A1-A16. (Note).

Boyle, D. M., B. W. Carpenter, D. R. Hermanson and M. O. Mensah. 2013. The accounting doctorate shortage: Opportunities for practitioners. Strategic Finance (May): 30-36. (Note).

Castellano, J. F. and R. Burrows. 2011. Relevance lost: The practice/classroom gap. Management Accounting Quarterly (Winter): 41-48. (Summary).

Eastman, D. R. 2002. What higher education is for. St. Petersburg Times (September 14): 19A. (Note).

Elliott, R. K. 1992. The third wave breaks on the shores of accounting. Accounting Horizons (June): 61-85. (Summary).

Gary, R. F., C. A. Denison and M. L. Bouillon. 2011. Can obtaining an accounting Ph.D. provide a positive financial return? Issues In Accounting Education (February): 23-38. (Summary).

Grasso, L. 2008. The accounting Ph.D. shortage: Crisis or opportunity? Cost Management (March/April): 15-25. (Note).

Johnson, H. T. 1989. Professors, customers, and value: bringing a global perspective to management accounting education. Proceedings of the Third Annual Management Accounting Symposium. Sarasota: American Accounting Association: 7-20. (Summary).

Martin, J. R. Not dated. Notes to those considering an Accounting Ph.D. Management And Accounting Web.

Martin, J. R. Not dated. The accounting doctoral shortage and opportunities to teach accounting. Management And Accounting Web.

McNair, C. J. and B. Richards. 2008. Unintended consequences: Death of the teacher-scholar. Cost Management (January/February): 21-28. (Summary).

Reckers, P. M. J. 2006. Perspectives on the proposal for a generally accepted accounting curriculum: A wake-up call for academics. Issues In Accounting Education (February): 31-43. (Note).

Trapnell, J. E., N. Mero, J. R. Williams and G. W. Krull, Jr. 2009. The accounting doctoral shortage: Time for a new model. Issues In Accounting Education (November): 427-432. (Note).