Graduate and Employer Attitudes on the Skill Set Requirements for Professional Accountants: Should Emotional Intelligence be Developed in University Accounting Programs?

Peggy Ann Coady

    Research output: Types of ThesisDoctoral Thesis

    6 Downloads (Pure)


    This Doctorate of Business Administration (DBA) thesis investigated graduate and employer attitudes on the skill set requirements for professional accountants and specifically whether university accounting programs provide the emotional intelligence (EI) skills an accounting graduate needs. Emotional intelligence is the effective awareness, control and management of one's own emotions, and those of other people. Theories of emotional intelligence assert that EI is more important than cognitive ability or technical expertise in predicting managerial success - even in the accounting field. As a result there has been considerable debate about the need for accounting graduates to develop EI skills in their university accounting programs to better prepare them for careers in the accounting profession. While much accounting education research has been noted for its underemployment of theoretical frameworks, this descriptive study used neo-correspondence theory to investigate the attitudes of accounting graduates and accounting employers. Neo-correspondence theory is derived from the correspondence theory of education which emphasizes the connection between higher education student experience and the workplace. While many studies have identified gaps or lack of correspondence between the university accounting curriculum and the accounting workplace, the findings of this study suggest that the gap may not be as big as expected. While employers and graduates acknowledge the importance of certain EI skills (e.g. self-confidence) for the workplace, they do not have expectations that these skills be developed in university. Other EI skills (e.g. service) were considered by employers and graduates to be important but not well developed in accounting graduates through their university accounting programs. The results also reveal that employers consider some EI skills (e.g. teamwork and collaboration) as being important and well developed in accounting graduates. Somewhat surprisingly, however, were the findings around technical skills. While some technical skills (e.g. financial accounting and audit and assurance) are considered well developed in graduates, others such as bookkeeping, integrative thinking and analytical skills are viewed by employers as important but needing more development in university accounting programs. The study has academic and practical contributions. The research provides a broader understanding of the skill set (particularly the EI skills) valued by accounting employers and accounting graduates. The study will inform university accounting educators about the ranked importance of various technical and nontechnical skills (primarily EI skills) according to employer and graduate perspectives. Also, the study produces data about the perceived extent of development of these skills in accounting graduates and their expected development in university. This research study is relevant for the academic community by contributing to the use of the theories of emotional intelligence and neo-correspondence. The emotional intelligence field is still relatively new and neo-correspondence theory has never been used in an emotional intelligence context before. Overall, this research has relevance in the accounting education research field, the professional accounting workplace and in the university accounting classroom
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationDoctor of Business Administration
    Awarding Institution
    • Byrne, Sean, Supervisor
    • Casey, John, Supervisor
    Publication statusUnpublished - 2014


    • Accountancy, University Accounting programs


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