بهره برداری از مزیت نسبی: الگوی تحقیقات ارزش افزوده در سیستم های اطلاعاتی حسابداری
|کد مقاله||سال انتشار||تعداد صفحات مقاله انگلیسی||ترجمه فارسی|
|10115||2008||14 صفحه PDF||سفارش دهید|
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : International Journal of Accounting Information Systems, Volume 9, Issue 4, December 2008, Pages 202–215
Following the lead of recent papers by Demski [Demski J. Is Accounting an Academic Discipline? Account Horiz 2007;21(2): 153–157], Fellingham [Fellingham J. Is Accounting an Academic Discipline? Account Horiz 2007;21(2): 159–163] and Hopwood [Hopwood A. Whither Accounting Research? Account Rev 2007;82(5): 1365–1374] which questioned the direction and value added of non-AIS accounting research, we discuss the state of research in Accounting Information Systems. AIS researchers face a significant hurdle in undertaking value added research given that the financial and human resources that industry devotes to research and development of AIS technology dwarf the capabilities of academic researchers. In these circumstances, we put forward a paradigm for AIS research based on the principle of comparative advantage, which is the powerful economic force that ensures that trade can take place even between parties where one has an absolute superiority over the other. It is our contention that if AIS academics are to succeed in creating value added research then they have to identify what they can do that the AIS industry, despite all its financial and human resource advantages, cannot or will not do. And what economic theory indicates is that such opportunities to add value always exist — if only academics are willing to seek them out. We illustrate our paradigm by analyzing three potential sources of comparative advantage for AIS researchers and discussing illustrative examples of research in each of these areas.
The starting proposition for this paper is that accounting is both a field of knowledge and a profession, and hence, research in accounting inherently has to have a large component that is applied. Granting this position, what implications does it pose for research into Accounting Information systems (AIS), which we define as research into the application of information technology to the practice of accounting, auditing and reporting?1 An outcome of the identification of business with technology, AIS is even broader than the profession of accounting itself. It is hard to describe AIS in terms that would give it an identity independent of its underlying industry, in this case, that vast driver of modern economies, high tech in the form of IT, electronic communications, ERP systems, tagging technologies, and so on. It is against this background that AIS research has to find its niche and to establish its role. In non-AIS research in accounting (which we denote as “NAIS” research) the relationship between the focus of research and the priorities of the profession is widely perceived to be fragile to say the least. While it may be an exaggeration to say that practitioners don't care about NAIS research, the recent spate of articles by senior NAIS researchers decrying in rather alarming terms the state of the field and its lack of relevance is unprecedented2. The concerns these authors raise about the prevailing direction of NAIS research is what prompts us to examine the state of AIS research and its role relative to AIS practice, and how each contributes to the other. For the bottom line, is, at least to us, that if the worth of AIS research is to be assessed based on some measure of value added, as opposed to being valued for its own sake, then – given the professional basis of accounting – value can only be evaluated by the extent to which it helps shape the way in which accounting is undertaken by those for whom it is a living. That is not to say that AIS researchers aren't free to pursue whatever research that interests them, and indeed, the joy in academic research arises from the fact that it can be an unconstrained exercise in academic curiosity. But if all researchers adopt that approach the danger is the creation of a gulf between the practice of accounting and research into it. It is also true that a great deal of accounting research is concerned not with the practice of accounting, but with the impact of accounting practice on financial markets, managers, investors and other third parties. However insightful this work may be, though, it is essentially a second-order and passive form of research if that research does not itself shape the practice that gives rise to the impact in the first place — akin to medical researchers focusing on the effect of medicines on patients while eschewing the development of those medicines. There is, of course, an essential difference between accounting, including AIS, and a field like medicine or physics in that accounting is an entirely human creation, while the hard sciences are attempting to discover the unchanging rules of nature. As a consequence, even the most seemingly impenetrable research in the latter almost always affects practice because the truth that is being revealed is the basis for the workings of any application — consider the increasingly important field of quantum cryptography which is based on those most cryptic of scientific results, the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle and “quantum entanglement”. This makes it possible to sustain a discovery driven approach to research, in which academics can, if they choose, focus exclusively on basic research while leaving it to others to find its practical application, secure in the knowledge that such an application does in fact exist. But that is not the case in accounting since its “truths” are not fundamental or lasting – not even to the extent that discoveries about consumer behavior are in economics or asset pricing is in finance – since the reality of accounting can be changed by simply issuing a new standard, or by passing a law, such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act 3. In such circumstances those who define reality are creating (or destroying) far more value added than those who simply study what that reality happened to be at some point in the past. This fact has particular relevance to the question of whether accounting research should be positive – meaning that it should focus, for example, on analyzing data to determine how markets reacted to past accounting events, such as earnings, while refraining from drawing a conclusion about the applicability of those findings – or whether it should be normative and explicitly aiming to devise “better” accounting practices. The latter is what medical research does whenever a new drug is developed or what an engineer does when he creates a new software application. But there is a long tradition in NAIS research of avoiding making what can be perceived as value judgments, leaving it to others to draw practical lessons, if any, from the work. One merit of being in a profession which molds its own reality is that there are obvious candidates for those who can fulfill the role of translating theory into practice. Thus, when archival capital market research is criticized as lacking in relevance, the defense that is offered is that it is up to standard setters to apply the lessons that such NAIS research offers into the information theory perspective on accounting. There is little evidence in support of this defense, with Erick Lie's recent work on stock option expensing being an exception that perhaps demonstrates the rule. But at least the argument can be made that in the case of NAIS research a strategy of academics focusing only on positive rather than normative research may succeed, especially with a senior financial accounting researcher usually holding a seat at the FASB. Unfortunately, this particular road for basic research to influence practice by “osmosis” is much harder to follow for AIS research. AIS practice is defined by a far larger set of players than those who define NAIS practice, and if the influence of researchers on the latter is limited, then it is even more remote in the case of the former. While accountants have a large part to play (though certainly not the exclusive part) in defining accounting practice, in AIS the underlying technologies are entirely outside their control. All this makes it all the more important that AIS research explicitly address the way in which it can create value and systematically develop a pathway for at least making feasible a possible impact on practice. If AIS practitioners and not academics are the only parties that move the profession forward then it is hard to see what value added AIS research can possibly provide. We should also emphasize that our paper is neither the first, nor the last, but simply the latest to call for accounting researchers to pay attention to the impact of their work on accounting practice. Sutton (2005) specifically addressed the role of AIS research in this regard, when he stated that: “The opportunities to provide guidance and impact practice are perhaps greater in the area of Accounting Information Systems than in any other area of accounting or information systems research. We live in an era where the accounting profession and the investor communities are struggling with how to move from an annual financial reporting model disseminated in printed reports which have been audited via paper based transaction trails to an electronic age where information is available in real-time in an electronic, searchable format. The research opportunities are as endless as they are critical.” But as he also warned, it is easier said than done to seize those opportunities: “An on-going debate in the scholarly disciplines has been the value of basic versus applied research. The former is generally considered to be high level scholarship and the latter is considered to be non-scholarly and is often less valued. Such a perspective removes the benefits of collaboration between basic and applied research; while a discovery could be made at the basic level, applied research would be necessary to bring that basic discovery to a practical and useable form… We, as academic scholars, carry a responsibility to society to lead discovery, grow knowledge, and disseminate knowledge. A major part of this discovery and dissemination is to use this knowledge to enhance application in a manner that serves the public interest.” Whether it is Sutton in AIS, or Demski, Fellingham and Hopwood in NAIS – or Sterling a generation earlier – the need for a true partnership between accounting research and practice obviously cannot be emphasized often enough, since, for whatever reason, the lesson does not seem to stick. Our paper both reiterates the lessons of these earlier papers and offers a new paradigm to help guide AIS researchers about how they can create value added research. In the next section of the paper we examine the particular hurdles that AIS researchers face when attempting to undertake value adding research in the face of the physical and human resource advantages of the AIS industry. Section 3 then introduces the principle of comparative advantage, which we argue offers a way for AIS researchers to overcome those hurdles and we discuss three examples of ways in which that principle can be exploited by academics. Section 4 analyzes those three sources of comparative advantage in greater depth, with illustrative examples of AIS research in each. Section 5 examines the development of XBRL as a case study in the application of the paradigm laid out in this paper and Section 6 discusses how AIS researchers can implement the principle of comparative advantage in their research. Section 7 offers some caveats and conclusions.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
In our discussion of relative opportunity costs as the basis for a comparative advantage for AIS researchers, we were deliberately disingenuous in defining that opportunity cost only relative to AIS practice. As the increasing attempts by AIS researchers to clone the methodologies of NAIS research indicate, there is another measure of opportunity cost highly salient to AIS researchers: the difficulties that they face in publishing in the top-tier accounting journals, all of which are dominated by empirical NAIS capital markets research. It is unfortunately likely that our proposal for AIS research to create value added through the pursuit of comparative advantage relative to industry will only exacerbate the divide between the priorities and methodologies of AIS and NAIS research — and hence, the hurdles that AIS researchers will face in the journal process. Similarly, consolidating value added through such activities as hosting conferences and writing professionally-oriented papers are activities unlikely to be rewarded in promotion decisions in many research-oriented universities. While these are critical concerns, they are ones that we cannot adequately respond to in this paper, even assuming that we had a solution to offer. Instead, we end with the caveat that achieving value added on some dimension is surely better than having it in none. Given the constraints under which AIS operates – of being, to be blunt, a junior partner in an IT industry with a large, thriving and well funded research program of its own, not to mention being outsiders to an accounting profession historically averse toward applying technology to long-established work practices – establishing a space within which academic AIS research is credible and has a role to play should perhaps be the first imperative.