Last night I read the Accounting Onion’s latest post, asking “why do accounting academics blog less than other academics?” The writer, Tom Selling, offers a novel, if implausible theory:
We (accounting professors) rely on the Big-4 oligopoly to hire our students:
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.
I immediately tweeted that this post was not nice or true. (I then added, in a second tweet, that “Accounting professors don’t blog much because we are too busy with teaching, research and service.” That was admittedly a poorly-thought-out answer – Accounting professors are just as busy as English profs or any other area.)
First of all, Accounting Onion’s theory would suggest that somehow the Big-4 fuel an atmosphere of fear. Here’s a narrative: Accounting academics are afraid to say what they really think for fear of upsetting Big-4 recruiters, and that Big-4 recruiters would viciously retaliate against these academics by refusing to hire their students. That’s ridiculous. I think I can speak for my colleagues when I say that we’re not willing to lie (or withhold the truth) in order to get prestigious employers to hire our students.
Furthermore, I’ve worked for the Big-4 (or I should say the Big-8 and Big-6 – scratch that! I haven’t worked for the Big-4, have I?). In my capacity as a Department Chair, I know many Big-4 recruiters and employees. And we accounting professors do have a lot of far-fetched opinions. But I don’t know any recruiters or partners who would retaliate against students because of their professors’ far-fetched opinions. The Big-4 firms are very systematic about who they recruit and wise enough to hire our students in spite of us and our wacky opinions.
That said, how do we answer Accounting Onion’s question? Where are all the accounting professor-bloggers?
Here goes: I’m sorry to say that accounting doesn’t make for very interesting blogging. See any interesting tax footnotes lately? How ’bout that new FASB proposal? IFRS is already a joke – how many bloggers do we need to point that out? Here comes “Little GAAP.” Is there anything interesting to say about “Little GAAP?” And while I’m at it, have you ever seen the list of topics at a AAA meeting? There could be more accounting professor blogs, yes, but who would want to read all that cr@p? Needless to say, Accounting Onion and Summa are two happy exceptions. There are also re:the Auditors, Big 4 Blog, and Going Concern, very interesting and informative blogs, but these aren’t written by professors.
For that matter, accounting doesn’t make for very interesting media. Read any interesting accounting books lately? Magazines? Watch the Accountants’ Network on cable? Would you?
Here on my www.accountingethicist.com blog (the name of my blog itself exudes lonely desperation induced by a lack of interesting topics), I asked about the UBS scandal. Now I would think that’s controversial, delivers the kind of “tension” that is supposed be fodder for great blogging. Front page news. Well you know what? It was bad! Wrong! Failure of controls! Next topic!
If you compare accounting with other technical academic fields – such as actuarial science or civil engineering – you would probably find a similar dearth of blogs. There’s just not much to say.
What do you think? Why don’t more accounting professors write blogs?