The Bruce Column — Taking scholars to a global level

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14 Feb 2013

A new initiative seeks to bring young scholars to the global table and enhance understanding. Robert Bruce, our regular columnist, takes a look at how it will work and the benefits it should create.

No one doubts that better understanding at a global level makes life easier, more effective, and more productive. And this works just as much in the field of accounting as any other. The profession, business, and all its support systems are inexorably becoming more global. The example of the global growth and spread of International Financial Reporting Standards, (IFRS), for example, is there for all to see. The world of academia, the teaching and research, needs to be up there also.

And that is what a new initiative seeks to do. The International Association for Accounting Education and Research, (IAAER), has got together with accounting firm Deloitte to create a scholarship programme which will start to break down the barriers. The idea is to initially take five associate professors from around the world and provide them with the means to enable them to gain a broader perspective.

The Deloitte IAAER Scholars are drawn from all around the world, Brazil, Indonesia, Poland, Romania and South Africa, and the idea is that their bursaries will enable them to increase their exposure to internationally recognised accounting scholars, best practices in accounting and business education and research, and a global peer network. In the words of Professor Donna Street, the director of research and educational activities for the IAAER: ‘We want young scholars who can network with international established scholars, policy makers and standard-setters, to help them develop an international way of thinking. Often’, she says, ‘people don’t understand that we all face the same or similar problems. We want to encourage the emerging scholars to think globally, not locally, and learn that we are all in this together’.

And the scholars themselves see not just greater contact with ideas and people around the world but also positive benefits back home. ‘My participation can contribute to the internationalization of the Brazilian accounting profession, which will benefit our capital market in the long run’, says Fernando Murcia of the University of Sao Paulo. ‘Learning first hand from leading accounting scholars about the new frontiers of accounting standards, in particular IFRS, will have a great impact on my country’ says Supriyadi, an associate professor at the Gadjah Mada University in Indonesia. ‘Indonesia has just completed it s first year of IFRS implementation, and as the standards continue to develop it is important that we provide considered input into this process’.

One of the most useful parts of the program is that each Scholar will be assigned a mentor of global reputation to enhance the experience. People like Mary Barth of Stanford University who was previously a highly-respected Board member at the IASB is participating, for example. ‘This really breaks down the door’, says Professor Street. ‘Mentors will be so important’.

The programme will also go some way to closing the divide which often exists between the academic community and the accounting profession. It will have the effect of influencing and changing curricula. ‘The greater the connection with real-world practice and practitioners the more that is being taught and researched can be enriched’, says Professor Street. ‘Being in regular contact with the practice world will help scholars understand how they can get resources, and then utilize that experience and knowledge for their teaching purposes’.

It is a small start but there is no doubt that opening doors for people all around the world brings about change

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