The Transdisciplinary Accountant: New Possibilities for Critical Accounting Education and Ethical Professional Identity

Gough, A.Martin and Hoskin, Keith and Anderson, Fiona and Chatterjee, Papiya and Lucas, Ursula (2003) The Transdisciplinary Accountant: New Possibilities for Critical Accounting Education and Ethical Professional Identity. In: 7th Interdisciplinary Perspectives in Accounting Conference, 13-16 July 2003, Madrid. (Unpublished) (The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided)

This is the latest version of this item.

The full text of this publication is not available from this repository. (Contact us about this Publication)


This paper draws on aspects of previous and on-going work in which the authors have been jointly and individually involved over recent years. It argues that both academic and professional knowledge contexts are in general becoming increasingly transdisciplinary, even as they demand more intensive specialist disciplinary expertise. This means that, globally, trainee and qualified professionals in accountancy have to meet double goals, however much or little weakly articulated these are. The professional must always be able to demonstrate distinctive expertise, but within and across contexts which demand transdisciplinary understanding, whether in academic settings, formal professional examination settings or in on-the-job learning in the workplace. Such demands are now surfacing increasingly in professional accountancy discourse, e.g. in the self-definitional claims and statements of leading accountancy firms and professional institutes. Working within a UK context, we are researching how trainees now have to learn to meet both specialist and transdisciplinary demands in learning to become accountants, and in so doing, with the discursive change underway, have to learn in a new way how to ‘walk the walk’ and ‘talk the talk’. We draw two significant implications as accounting knowledge and professionalisation move forward from here. Paradoxically, there is a new scope for a ‘critical’ accounting education, because technical expertise is no longer seen to be sufficient, and the desired form of supplementing such expertise entails ‘seeing’ and ‘making sense’ across traditional disciplinary boundaries. At the same time, forming the ‘ethical accountant’ can no longer be seen as a matter of adding ethics onto technique. The ‘ethical failure’ of the profession is seen as requiring a radically different and more integrative approach to training on both fronts, but along with deep uncertainty to date over how (or if) that can be achieved. This paper offers research-based reflections on what the possibilities are for a more critically aware accounting practice and accountancy profession, within the new transdisciplinary context. To that end, the final version of the paper will draw on work by Anderson-Gough (2002) on the formation of professional identity within contemporary international accountancy firms, by Lucas (2002) on the limitations of learner perceptions of what accounting ‘is’, and by the team as a whole into the current practice of qualification-focused learning (QFL) and work-based learning (WBL) in the context of UK professional accountancy training. That research already brings home the recognition by all key parties that traditional forms of QFL are too fragmented and technically focussed, and that traditional workplace training is too seldom an effective complementary form of WBL. Short-term project demands or office-work needs still dominate and the learning demands of trainees, including ‘time out of office’, get seen as a cost not a potential benefit. Suddenly the solution to the ‘market’ problems of the firms involves an inter-institutional dialogue about the new expert who needs to be able work explicitly and knowingly, with and against, the assumptions of the perceived dominant knowledge bases. Such a new expert needs the intervention in various ways of academics (as teaching models as well as researchers) in order to meet the specialist/transdisciplinary/ethical demands of the market. Such at least is our UK view, although it is informed by a range of international changes as well.

Item Type: Conference or workshop item (Paper)
Subjects: L Education > LC Special aspects of education > LC5201 Education extension. Adult education. Continuing education
H Social Sciences > HF Commerce > HF5601 Accounting
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BJ Ethics
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BD Speculative Philosophy
Divisions: Faculties > University wide - Teaching/Research Groups > Centre for the Study of Higher Education
Depositing User: Martin Gough
Date Deposited: 16 Aug 2010 14:55
Last Modified: 20 May 2011 23:28
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

Available versions of this item

  • The Transdisciplinary Accountant: New Possibilities for Critical Accounting Education and Ethical Professional Identity. (deposited 16 Aug 2010 14:55) [Currently Displayed]
  • Depositors only (login required):