Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to examine the attitude of business students towards the accounting profession and investigate the relationship between students’ attitude and their intention to pursue a degree in accounting.
Design/methodology/approach: A self-administered survey was used to collect data from students from the University of Ghana Business School (UGBS). A total of 457 questionnaires were used in the empirical analysis. A binary logistic regression analysis technique was employed to analyse the data.
Findings: The logistic regression analysis demonstrates that intrinsic interest in the accounting discipline, prior exposure to accounting at the senior high level and the desire to pursue professional accounting qualification in future are good predictors of students’ intention to major in accounting. The results also indicate family members, course instructors and other referent group play a crucial role in influencing students’ intention to pursue a career in accounting.
One topical issue that has received considerable interest in accounting research, particularly in the field of accounting education is the shortages in the supply of professional accountants to meet the ever-growing demand. Prior studies have shown that the demand for professional accountants in many parts of the world, have over the years, exceeded the supply (Chen, 2012; Nor et al., 2013; Van Zyl and de Villiers, 2011). Interestingly, while countries are still struggling to deal with the shortages in the supply of professional accountants, it is expected that the demand for accountants globally will increase in the future due to the rapid growth in business activities (Coe, 2016). By implication, the challenge of meeting the demand of accountants globally could worsen if urgent steps are not taken to address the deficit in the supply of accountants. While the reasons for the global shortage in the supply of accountants remain an open question, a common theme emerging from prior empirical works attribute the unfortunate trend to the continuous decline in the number of university students who pursue accounting as a course major and the unwillingness of some accounting graduates to pursue accounting as a career ( Jackling and Calero, 2006; Cappelletto, 2010). In part, the negative perceptions students have about the accounting profession have been acknowledged to be an important source of this problem (Wells and Fieger, 2006). As pointed out in some studies (Baxter and Kavanagh, 2013; Hiltebeitel et al., 2000), young people usually develop their career aspirations based on preconceived ideas, inaccurate perceptions about professions and their work environment. In the field of accounting, in particular, a number of studies (Baxter and Kavanagh, 2013; Byrne and Willis, 2003; Jackling, 2001) document that students who are usually not attracted to the accounting field perceive it to be uninteresting, a discipline that requires good numeracy skills, full of rule memorising and a profession of boring people who rarely work among others. Thus, stereotypical image of accounting has been recognised to be a key contributing factor to the decline in the number of students pursuing accounting as a course major in schools. Accordingly, a number of studies seeking to examine how students perceive the accounting profession and the effect of such perceptions on their choice of academic major and career decisions have emerged (Albrecht and Sack, 2000; Baxter and Kavanagh, 2013; Byrne and Willis, 2003; Jackling and Calero, 2006; Tang and Seng, 2016). In particular most of these studies have explored the dominant factors that influence students’ decision to pursue a career in accounting.