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Cross-cultural comparison of factors influencing accounting student's career and public perceptions in Brazil, South Korea and Japan

Renato Azevedo, University of São Paulo

In the last two decades, the decline of students choosing accounting programs around the world has been a source of concern in the field. That phenomenon is related over the last decade in various parts of the world: USA (Albrecht and Sack, 2000; Schlee et al., 2007), Australia (Jackling, 2002; Sugahara, Boland and Cilloni, 2008), UK (Marshall, 2003; Carnegie and Napier, 2009), Germany (Hoffjan, 2004), Ireland (Byrne and Willis, 2005), Japan (Sugahara and Boland, 2006), and Brazil (Azevedo, 2010; Azevedo, Cornachione and Casa Nova, 2008). It has also been known for decades that students consider stereotypes about different careers when choosing their own (Decoster, 1971). Barsky and Catanach (2001) suggest that students are not choosing accounting as a major because the career is boring compared to other fields that are seen as exciting. The stereotype threat theory was used as base for the theoretical framework (Steele & Aronson, 1995; Aronson et al., 2005) and the main goal of this research is to identify and analyze the social perception that Brazilian, South Korean and Japanese societies have related to accountants and accounting area and the factors influencing accounting student’s career in those countries in a cross-cultural comparative study. For those countries, the objective of this research is to identify and analyze the social perception related to accountants for the following characteristics: creative, studious, team-player, effective communicator, leader, risk-taker, and ethical. These characteristics were chosen based on previous studies. (Azevedo, 2010; Azevedo & Cornachione Jr., 2010; Azevedo, Cornachione and Casa Nova, 2008; Schlee, et al., 2007; Sugahara & Boland, 2006). This is a non-experimental research with descriptive and causal-comparative designs, in light of the exploratory framework (Gall, Gall, & Borg, 2003). A photo-interviewing approach was adapted from Dempsey and Tucker (1991) to enhance participants’ perception related to accountants, moving from photos to drawings, based on surveys that were conducted online over July 1rst to July 16th, 2011, including 113 Korean respondents and 89 Japanese respondents. The differential of this research is to expand these previous studies in a comparative cross-cultural study that contrast Asian countries such as South Korea and Japan with a Latin American case (Azevedo, 2010). As a general remark and with all limitations from a first exploratory study of this kind, the results falsify the idea of negative stereotypes for accountants related with the seven characteristics studied here (creative, studious, team-player, effective communicator, leader, risk-taker, and ethical) similar to the study conducted in Brazil by but contradicting the majority of previous established studies and common sense (Azevedo, 2010).


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