Update 2013-11-13: The text has been updated to reflect the fact that the article is now published
Research into the tension between professionalism and commercialism in the accounting profession is inconclusive and warrants greater attention. How to conceptualize and measure these constructs are thus pressing concerns. Using questionnaire data from 1646 auditors in Sweden, and applying confirmatory factor analysis and structural regression models within a structural equation modeling framework to a measurement model developed by Suddaby et al. (2009), we find little empirical evidence for the existence of the two logics of professionalism and managerialism (i.e., commercialism) as two higher-order latent constructs shared by auditors. However, we find that two sub-elements of the proposed higher-order constructs do discriminate between each other in a way that could indicate two exclusive value statements in the accounting profession connected to the professionalism-commercialism tension: these are the respective emphases on independence enforcement and client commitment.
This is the abstract to the first article we* publish based on a survey sent to all 3.999 chartered (and registered) auditors in Sweden. I am of course happy to see it in press print** but also a little curious as to its reception. On the hand these kinds of papers can always be dismissed with arguments such as “well of course you didn’t find any correlations – you asked the wrong questions!”. On the other hand: that is kind of our point! We went through great pains to replicate the state of the art in this type of research, just because of this. There is never any “right” or “wrong” questions. What we wanted to know is whether, the model as suggested by Suddaby et al. (2009), can produce valid result with these kinds of methods. Hence, I don’t buy these kinds of dismissals.
On a more positive note I really hope this article will challenge some of the best minds in audit research—from both sides of the quantitative/qualitative divide—to think anew concerning the tensions between commercialism and professionalism. We make some suggestions in the paper but I think there is potential for some really interesting work, seeking to understand what it means to be a professional auditor and how this interplays with demands on the auditor to also be commercially successful.
* Thomas Carrington, Tobias Johansson, Gustav Johed, and Peter Öhman.
* * Carrington, T., Johansson, T., Johed, G., and Öhman, P. (2013.) An empirical test of the hierarchical construct of professionalism and managerialism in the accounting profession. Behavioral Research in Accounting, In-PressVol. 25, No. 2, pp. 1-20.