As the AAA and its
members move into the 21st century, they face enormous
opportunities for adding value in post-secondary education in
business and accounting. To add value, the AAA should assist
its members in understanding the ever-changing business
environment. In turn, members' institutions and AAA members
should adopt a responsive strategic focus that reflects their
particular strengths. In this way, the AAA, members'
institutions, and AAA members will position themselves to
remain competitive in the fast-changing market for
post-secondary education. Given the pace of change, the time
is now for action.
All facets of the "market" for post-secondary
education in business and accounting are changing: employers,
deliverers, information technology, students, faculty, and
curriculum content and delivery methods. Employers are
undergoing fundamental changes in organizational structures,
definition of core competencies (e.g., learning as a core
competency), uses of information technology, and globalization
of business activities, all of which combine to dramatically
alter the demand for accountants in public practice, business,
and government. Non-traditional deliverers of business and
accounting education (i.e., corporate universities and
for-profit universities) offer a mix of subject matter, time
schedules, and credentialing that many students find
attractive; hence, they are experiencing rapid growth. Changes
in information technology (IT) are having a profound effect on
the market for post-secondary education, both directly through
enabling a power shift from producers (academia) to consumers
(students) and altering delivery methods, and indirectly
through its pervasive impacts on all facets of business
activities. Undergraduate student profiles are rapidly
changing: from recent high school graduate to older, more
mature students with work experience; from full-time to
part-time; from those willing to accept a "one-size-fits-all"
education to those demanding customized education. Faculty see
changes in promotion and tenure criteria, pressures to do away
with tenure altogether, increasing turnover through
retirements, and heightened pressure to perform along new
dimensions. Finally, as business and accounting programs
become more "customer focused," curriculum content
and delivery methods continue to change in response to demands
of the market.
The Committee has identified numerous threats and
opportunities to traditional business and accounting programs
arising from developments in the environment. Non-traditional
deliverers pose several threats including delivering education
through more effective use of information technology; offering
specialized education that meets the credentialing needs of
life-long learners; and continually introducing new curricula
to reflect the changing business environment. Opportunities
for traditional business and accounting programs arise from
the life-long learning needs of professionals in public
practice, business and government. Information technology
provides the means for developing new innovative approaches
for delivery of education. And, partnerships and alliances
provide numerous opportunities for leveraging scarce education
explicitly recognizes that AAA members may be affiliated with
traditional educational institutions, corporate universities,
or for-profit universities. Hence, although the Committee
examined threats and opportunities by contrasting developments
in traditional business and accounting programs vs.
developments in non-traditional programs, the Committee's
intent is not to pit AAA members one against another, but to
assist all members in better serving their customers (and
their customers' customers).
In formulating its recommendations, the Committee explicitly
recognizes that institutions and faculty will differ greatly
in the degree to which they have already responded to many of
the threats and opportunities identified in this report.
Hence, each institution and faculty member must weigh these
recommendations in light of its own position in the market for
Based on its
examination of the changing market for post-secondary
education in business and accounting, the Committee recommends
the following actions for the AAA, AAA members' institutions,
and AAA members:
monitoring: The AAA should establish a permanent
committee to evaluate the competitive standing of members'
programs, to identify changes in the market for accounting
programs, and to disseminate the findings to the membership.
Programs that fail should be analyzed to identify the
reasons for failure. Other specific elements of this
committee's charge should be to: a) examine the status of
accounting programs in responding to the constructive
criticisms since 1986; b) determine comparative enrollment
data for students in directly competitive segments of
corporate university programs and for-profit university
programs; c) assess the comparative economics of competing
programs in terms of student-faculty ratios, faculty contact
hours, tuition, research output, etc.; and d) identify best
practices in competing organizations.
- Adopt a
customer focus: A fundamental power shift from providers
to consumers is taking place in all segments of the economy,
including post-secondary education. To remain competitive,
institutions need to adopt a customer focus, which will
become the key driver in the design and delivery of
- Gain an
understanding of the market: Each institution needs to
understand: a) the needs of those employer organizations
with whom it wishes to place its graduates; b) the needs of
prospective students, including degree requirements,
credentialing, and other life-long learning opportunities;
and c) the strengths and weaknesses of its competition.
- Develop a
strategic focus for accounting program(s): Each
institution needs to define the unique market niche that
will set its program(s) apart from other accounting programs
with which it competes.
- Put in place
a timely, continuous process of curricula development:
Each institution needs to identify those "high priority"
segments of its curricula that will be pivotal in
establishing its market niche and then quickly build new
curricula in the identified "high priority" areas.
Reduction of cycle time in curricula development should be
an integral part of this initiative.
- Invest in
faculty development: Each institution needs to identify
new knowledge and skills required to teach the "high
priority" segments of its curricula, such as
information technology and globalization, and begin to build
those skills through faculty development initiatives.
faculty reward system: Each institution needs to review
and critically evaluate its faculty reward system and, if
necessary, modify the reward system to align it with the
market-driven mission and objectives of itsprogram(s).
partnerships/alliances with key corporate employers: Each
institution should identify a small group of employers that
are key to the success of its programs. These key employers
represent potential partners with whom it should pursue
alliance initiatives, such as resource commitments by the
employers in exchange for access to an enlarged pool of
graduates that possess desired competencies.
teaching faculty: Given the limited availability of
faculty development opportunities and scarcity of resources,
to the extent feasible, individual faculty should be
expected to leverage their development experiences by
teaching other interested faculty.
- Faculty as
team player: The notion of a faculty member operating as
an independent contractor is obsolete. Faculty members must
view themselves as team members willing to work together to
achieve strategic objectives through program innovations
that meet market demands.
of university-wide resources: Faculty should identify
and avail themselves of existing resources on their
campuses, including instructional development/curriculum
design expertise, technology resources and support, writing
centers, faculty development centers, etc.
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