Research-practice gap in accounting


This study investigates the gap between management accounting research and practice.The central aim is to investigate the underlying reasons and their relative significance in preventing academic research engaging more effectively with the practice of management accounting.


The researchers find that the results indicate that the perceived gap between academic research and practice in management accounting is of limited concern to practitioners.


The results indicate that the existence of a gap between research and practice has been much remarked upon by the management accounting academic community. Leading scholars have expressed concern at this gap, and it has been the topic of special academic journal issues, editors’ forums, and conferences.


Tucker, B.P. en Lowe, A.D. (2014).Practitioners are from Mars; academics are from Venus? An investigation of the research-practice gap in management accounting. Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, 27(3): 394-425

Expert opinion Jim Emanuels: 

There  is a lot of relevant management research available. It is true that practitioners are only aware of a fraction of what is published while some research really has the potential to contribute to management practice improvements. Management research is relevant not only for managers, but also for supporting functions and roles, such as controllers and internal auditors, who provide managers with advice and contribute to organizational change and improvement. My experience as a consultant supports this observation.

On the other hand, the research community must be aware of the need for practical and hands-on translation of the results of academic management research.


If practitioners lose faith in science a vicious circle will arise. Practitioners do not bother or understand scientific research, causing researchers to be unable to contribute to practice, the latter will ultimately stay in an academic “cocoon” and after a while research loses its relevance because it does not contribute to the improvement of practice at all.

 We (University of Groningen) recently performed a study on the research-practice gap among practitioners in the fields accounting and controlling. The results confirmed that practitioners are reluctant to access and learn from academic research. This goes especially for auditors, probably because they are too busy with interpreting and applying rules and regulations imposed on them. They lack the time and focus to individually reflect on how lessons from research can improve their work processes, and increase their added value.  

The structural improvements are initiated by regulations and the structural improvement is handed over to regulators (external) and technical support departments (internal). These parties, just as consultants, may be able to solve the gap, assuming they see it as their role to find, read, understand and interpret the results of management research, and use it to develop best practices. There are several “channels” that facilitate this knowledge transfer process (e.g. management books, seminars, training).

Slidetwo is a new online platform with the purpose of building the bridge. It provides expert opinions on academic research, and in that way aims to bring science closer to business.





 Edited by Eline Ammeraal



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