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PRACTITIONER AND FACULTY PERSPECTIVES ON THE CAREER PREPARATION OF ENTRY-LEVEL PUBLIC ACCOUNTANTS

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Author(s): Kathryn Simms | Enrique Zapatero

Journal: American Journal of Economics and Business Administration
ISSN 1945-5488

Volume: 4;
Issue: 2;
Start page: 144;
Date: 2012;
Original page

Keywords: History of Accounting | Accounting Education | Qualifications of Entry-Level Public Accountants | Career Development in Public Accounting

ABSTRACT
Entry-level public accountants in the U.S. must satisfy a litany of historically unparalleled requirements and demands. This unique set of challenges calls forth new questions about how effectively entry-level accountants are navigating the divide between their conceptual educations and the practical rigors of public practice. To examine these questions, we relied on qualitative analysis predicated on a theoretical framework of constructivism and systems theory. Our study confirmed practitioners’ perceptions about the preparation of entry-level accountants that have been documented for nearly a hundred years: Entry-level accountants’ shortcomings often include written and oral communications skills, interpersonal skills and critical thinking skills. However, what is unique to this study is that we also considered faculty perspectives. Faculty concurred with practitioners’ perspectives on entry-level accountants’ strengths and weaknesses-noting considerable growth in most problem areas over the college years. Practitioners and faculty also largely agreed about the pathway to successful and unsuccessful careers in public accounting. We suggest that continuing the historical perspective of extreme separation between academia and the business world is not particularly beneficial to the career preparation of junior accountants. Rather, we recommend that viewing accounting faculty and practitioners as part of the same continuum is likely to be more advantageous to the preparation of entry-level accountants and to the profession as a whole. We also conclude that differences in faculty and practitioner perspectives serve as checks and balances on the accounting profession-although more collaboration might facilitate greater improvements.
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