Can gown help town? exploring the "gap" between accounting practice and academia and providing a theory for why it exists

Rebecca Bloch, Gary Kleinman, Amanda Peterson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The purpose of this paper is to develop a comprehensive theory as to why academic research in accounting is said not to help practice. The authors (1) present a comprehensive literature review in the academic/ practitioner gap arena, and (2) develop a theoretical background for it. Further, they identify (3) the different information needs of these groups using value group theory and (4) the inherent factors and personality traits that influence career choice. Next, they (5) evaluate the values of each subgroup. They then (6) theorize what types of accounting research would interest each. They argue that (7) individuals who enter the academy differ from those who enter practice, and (8) the socialization processes and the impact of the professional setting (practice or academe) on behaviors further the separation of academic research from practitioner needs. This paper is theoretical. It suggests that bridging the gap will be difficult. The study is theoretical. The limitation is that it does not empirically test the relationships hypothesized. By providing a comprehensive model of factors underlying the gap, however, it can be a fruitful source of research ideas for years to come. The implications are that it will be difficult to bridge the gap between accounting practitioners and academics. Having a greater understanding of the causes of the gap, however, may be very useful in fostering thought as to how to overcome it. Prior literature on the topic is largely atheoretical. This paper is the first to develop a broad theory of the gap.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-61
Number of pages39
JournalAdvances in Public Interest Accounting
StatePublished - 2017


  • Accountants
  • Career path
  • Personality
  • Setting-effects
  • Socialization
  • Values


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