Why aren’t there more accounting professor bloggers?

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.

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


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 AuditorsBig 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?

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About Mark P. Holtzman

Chair of Accounting Department at Seton Hall University. PhD from The University of Texas at Austin. Worked at Deloitte's New York Office. BSBA from Hofstra University.

9 comments

  1. Based on me experience from talking to at least three of my friends, the Big 4 does not look too highly on associates having their own website. I recall one of my friends who was interviewing with a partner and the partner laughed at the idea that a student would write a blog about Accounting, suffice to say that the person canceled his blog! Anyways, here are my two cents:My theory of why not many students have their own blog is because they feel they do not grasp the material well enough or are not experts enough to write a blog on Accounting. They feel that whatever opinion they would write about would simply be regurgitating their professor's opinion. My theory of why not many Accounting professors have their own blog is because of a technology gap. Many of them – especially older professors, are not very proficient with computers, and would shine away from creating and maintaining a website (I, myself have no idea how one would go on about creating a blog or maintain it). Based on my experience with my undergrad Accounting professors, many of them stayed as far away as possible from computers. Another possibly reason on why many professors do not have a blog – especially non-tenured ones, may be because they fear reprimands from their superiors if they write something controversial. Thus, they "play it safe" in order to obtain tenure.Again, that's simply my opinion.

  2. Prof. David Albrecht of the Summa believes that Accountants don't blog because accountants tend not to be verbal. However, this is what Dr. Albrecht and friends were doing on Saturday night:http://profalbrecht.wordpress.com/2011/10/15/off-topic-aecm-on-saturday-night/Need I say more?

  3. Mark,I'm glad to discover your blog. Nice job.I think there is a sufficient amount of controversy in accounting to support a blog over several years. Ed Ketz has been writing essays for about 11 years, and has yet to run out of material. Paul Miller originally started editorializing with Ed, and then continued with Paul Bahnson. Tom Seling has blogged for six years on financial accounting. And, I've put up over 300 blog posts myself.

  4. So far, two of my blogging idols disagree with me. Prof. Albrecht's ("The Summa") comment is above. Adrienne Gonzalez ("Goingconcern.com") wrote this: http://goingconcern.com/2011/10/why-dont-more-accounting-professors-blog/Both seem to feel that there is enough controversy to support more blogs, without my creating controversy by arguing that there isn't enough controversy in accounting. (I just learned that that is something called "trolling.") Like you guys, I've chosen to dedicate my life to disseminating accounting. I write about it, I speak about it, I find it very interesting, I like it. But good blogging seems to require some visceral tension that (to me at least) just doesn't seem to exist in academic accounting.

  5. To be quite honest, I am not sure why accounting professors do not blog more. You are the first of all my accounting professors to introduce the idea of blogging about accounting and I am surprised I have not seen this sooner with such efforts to incorporate technology into accounting curriculum. I do not believe this phenomenon is due to the lack of information or accounting controversy to blog about, but because they could only target a very specialized audience and they may feel that their blog would not be as active as they would like. This thought process kind of touches on your theory that accounting is not interesting enough to blog about. While I find this interesting as masters student in accounting, I feel that the general public would not find this interesting, nor really appreciate the topics being debated.

  6. It is only now working for a firm that I have come to really be able to have my own opinion on certain accounting matters. In college I always felt that my opinion was simply my professors as said in the comment above. This was because of the lack of practice in the field. This may be why students are not so apt to blog about these topics. Also, as just an option and not a requirement I doubt an accounting blog would be interesting to most. In order to comment something, one has to read into issues and have some knowledge that one may be able to talk about and I think that people are just not willing to put in the extra work for a leisure activity. I believe this plays a huge part as to why professors dont blog more, for fear of lack of response. Another reason could be that many professors don't have a true passion for accounting and are simply teaching it to get away from the busy season hours. Just my opinion.

  7. I think for people to comment on the blogger the comment has to be made more interesting andrelate more to the news. For example how many of the wall street protesters are collectingunemployment and also selling on e-bay, when they should be looking for a job. Ordoes Kim Kardashian have to pay taxes on the millions of freebies she received for beingmarried.

  8. In response to Anonymous, (1) I don't think that "occupying" Wall Street is quite the same as "working" on Wall Street. Hence, the occupiers are not working, and as long as they meet the other criteria for unemployed, are well-qualified to collect unemployment benefits. That said, I think that excessive profits on e-Bay would disqualify a person from receiving unemployment benefits.(2) Most of Kim Kardashian's freebies would be fully taxable, but any cost of the wedding itself that she paid for (if there are any) should be deductible against that income. Interesting fact: reality TV stars can deduct the cost of almost anything used in filming (clothing, entertainment, etc.). Someone like Kim Kardashian can deduct almost everything she touches, I think. It's a taxpayer's dream. (This isn't tax advice, speak to your accountant before trying this, etc., all of the usual disclaimers apply.)

  9. hi all..
    i like this article, thanks a lot

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