This award is named in honor of Dr. Alfred R. Roberts, second President and long-serving Secretary of the Academy, and provides grants for research which seek to support the 35 goals identified by Professor Emeritus Richard Vangermeersch as to accounting history research, as identified in the April 2012 issue of the Accounting Historians Notebook. Grants will be awarded to Academy members for the actualization of ideas to increase the scope of the history of accounting. Written proposals including specification of scope, purpose, deliverables and timetable, should be presented to the committee for review and approval.
Award: Plaque and $1,000
Send nominations to: The Alfred R. Roberts Memorial Award Committee at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Congratulations to the 2016 Recipient!
Diane Roberts (University of San Francisco)
Diane H. Roberts is Professor of Accounting at the University of San Francisco. She has twice been the Director of the American Accounting Association’s Symposium on Research in Accounting Ethics. Diane is an Associate Editor of Accounting and the Public Interest, the journal of the American Accounting Association’s Public Interest Section, and on the Editorial Board of the journal, Research on Professional Responsibility and Ethics in Accounting. She was awarded the Third Annual Glen McLaughlin Prize for Research in Accounting Ethics by the Oklahoma Center for Accounting Research and a Post-Sabbatical Merit Award by the University of San Francisco. Diane’s project is based on the ninth goal from Professor Emeritus Richard Vangermeersch’s List of 35 Goals: “Accounting historians should expand their horizons to include a broader scope of accounting historical figures like women and various minority groups.” Tentatively titled Women and Minorities in Accounting Occupations in the 1940 US Census, this project will ascertain the extent and nature of women and minority participation in accounting occupations. Diane is the author of several accounting history papers using Census data, most relevantly Women in accounting occupations in the 1880 US Census in Accounting History Review, 2013, and has published in the Accounting Historians Journal.
2015: No Award Presented
RICHARD VANGERMEERSCH’S LIST OF 35 GOALS
There should be a series of Continuing Professional Education (CPE) sessions on the history of accounting. The United States has a fairly broad perspective of CPEs and I’m sure other countries do as well. Accounting historians certainly have completely missed this significant market.
- There needs to be developed a Ph.D. in Accounting History by a consortium of schools. This Ph.D. may be a second Ph.D. for those with a Ph.D. in another field. Many of the classes would be conducted through electronic meetings between accounting history professors and these Ph.D. candidates.
- It is time to prepare a set of formal submissions to national “Council of Humanities’ groups so as to recognize the History of Accounting as a legitimate contender for funding and recognition. The fine relationship, as exemplified by Alan Richardson and Richard Mattessish between Canadian accounting historians and the Canadian Council on the Humanities is a role model for success.
- “The History of Accounting: An International Encyclopedia” needs to be revised. Michael Chatfield and I co-edited it in 1996. However, the project was started in 1991. There has been a great out pouring of accounting history scholarship all over the world since 1991. There should be consideration of electronic means to revise the book.
- U.S. Steel, the first Billion Dollar Trust, should be the first project in a series of studies of accounting aspects of annual reports. There has been a recent dissertation at Case University that could be an excellent role model.
- There is a need to reestablish the legitimacy of biographical research as a dissertation topic for Ph.D.’s in accounting. We seem to have gone backwards on this type of dissertation since 1973.
- There are many significant people, (not accountants) who had a strong background and/or interest in accounting and who should be subjects of accounting historical research. Another way is to focus on the important accomplishments of leaders of the accounting profession and of accounting educators. I did such a preliminary study on 15 U.S. historical figures. I was most disappointed by the reaction of my colleagues in accounting history. It appears that they are convinced that accounting historians have a very limited role to play in general history. I still respectfully disagree with this view.
- There is a need to expand accounting horizons to include leftish-type writings. My recent research on Stuart Chase indicated that his leftish-type writings were omitted from The Accountants’ Index. How many more writers and their writings might be a very interesting accounting historical research question throughout he world.
- Accounting historians should expand their horizons to include a broader scope of accounting historical figures like women and various minority groups. For instance, in the United States both Afro-Americans and women have suffered mightily in terms of unutilized or underutilized potential in accounting. Yet some have succeeded.
- There should be a Great Books Series in Accounting. Mortimer Adler certainly was successful with his Great Books Series for western civilization. Surprisingly to most, there are a substantial number of great books in accounting.
- There should be reprints of the proceedings of International Congress of Accountants. The last proceedings of the International Congress of Accountants to be reprinted was the 1957 Congress.
- There should be reprints of the International Congress of Accounting Educators and Researchers. This is unfortunate as some of the published proceedings are outstanding documents.
- There needs to be a number of schools throughout the world that house artifacts of International Congress of Accountants. The University of Mississippi and the Paul Garner Center at the University of Alabama come to mind. With the proceedings and other artifacts found, bound, and passed around, accounting history would be truly a worldwide phenomenon.
- There needs to be noted the various collections of annual reports throughout the world. They represent a treasure chest for national and international research.
- There is a need to expand Vangermeersch’s 1978 base of twenty companies’ annual reports to a global look at the accounting aspects of annual reports. While this book has had a positive impact and remains in print, there is still much to do.
- There is a need to expand the base of accounting historians beyond “industrial companies”. While I have been less neglectful about railroad accounting than most Accounting historians, I still admit to a bias towards “industrials” in my research. This came from being brought up in an accounting and finance world focused on “industrials” and railroads classified as being an “utility”--regulated organizations. This bias means there are many open research areas in railroads and utilities.
- There should be further research done on City Directories of the 19th Century. How did accountants and accounting firms portray themselves in those more freewheeling days? What a great possibility for international comparisons this area would make.
- There are many rich books on accounting and on accounting historical studies that still need to be translated into other languages. This is also true for accounting periodicals. Anyone with strong language abilities could provide significant aid by translation of these works.
- There is a need to develop further the network of accounting historians throughout the world. With the explosion in electronic means of communication, The Academy of Accounting Historians should be truly a worldwide force.
- Professional exams in accounting need much more study by accounting historians. There are many, many different exams in professional accounting that society values very highly but accounting academics don’t. In fact, discussions of and research on these exams are taboo in most academic circles.
- Accounting historians need to go beyond the private sector to study Not-for-Profits, Educational Institutions, Hospitals, Governments, and Persons. Let’s try to shake the private sector bias that permeates academics in accounting.
- There should be established Accounting History Research Fellows. One potential site is the AICPA Library at the University of Mississippi. Let’s name a few more history centers and declare them to be fellowship centers.
- There is a need to have a separate and well-developed listing of accounting research material in archives throughout the world. It is incumbent on The Academy of Accounting Historians to replicate its 1978 study of archives in accounting so that researchers in accounting history know where to go.
- There should be an international study of the portrayals of accountants and accounting in cinema and literature. There are some excellent examples for the United States as a guide.
- There needs to be reviews of various religions to codify references to accounting and accountants. There have been some attempts at this with the Christian Bible but there have been few rigorous research efforts made to do comparative studies of different religions.
- There is a need to develop a number of general endowment funds for the propagation of studies in accounting history. A guaranteed source of income helps assure enough funds for different initiatives in every year. Plans can be made well in advance if the income can be assumed.
- There is a need for the careful development of specific endowment funds for accounting historical uses. Many contributors like to have their contributions go for a specific purpose near to their heart.
- There needs to be a better development of a roster of future leaders in accounting historical organizations. We have to assign this task to the Trustees of The Academy of Accounting Historians.
- There needs to be studies made as to the current market for accounting history and as to how those markets can be expanded. In my view, we have oversaturated a much too small market. I’d rather use our ingenuity to expand the size of the market. This is no easy task.
- Accounting historians must realize the fragility of its current state. There needs to be a concentrated effort--especially in the United States--to increase the supply of Ph.D. candidates and to interest some of them in accounting history.
- The World Congresses of Accounting Historians should be a model of how to preserve the happenings of all such international meetings of accountants. With the return of the four-year cycle, we have a chance to have the time to prepare proceedings.
- There needs to be a specific network of past presidents of accounting history organizations. Past presidents should all be involved as they have much experience to offer current administrators.
- There must be a need to understand the importance of tax-exempt status (for example, U.S. 501C organizations) to the development of accounting history organizations. This is crucial for tax deductions for contributions.
- There is a need to establish a 2023 Committee for The Academy of Accounting Historians. A fiftieth year celebration is not guaranteed. It will take much planning, dedication, imagination, and work by many to get there.
- There is a need to expand this list to 100 items and the longer list should be sent for rankings to all parties interested in accounting historical research. This survey will enable us to see where we should go and where we should not. It should give us ideas as to the short run, intermediate run and long-run implementations of the selected goals. Goals should be ranked Good or Very Good and should be classified into: a 1 to 3 year frame, a 4-6 year frame, and a 7 to 10 year frame.