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Role conflict in the work of accounting academics in Australia: Changes, challenges and opportunities

Wednesday 3 July: Conference day one, 2:00pm – 2:30pm parallel session



Room 11 – 303-B11 Sem



Associate Professor Maria Northcote
Avondale College of Higher Education, Australia

Lisa Barnes
Avondale College of Higher Education

Dr Warrick Long
Avondale College of Higher Education

Anthony Williams
Avondale College of Higher Education



Like academics in most other disciplines, accounting academics work in a context that is constantly changing, with multiple challenges. Some aspects of their lived experience have been reported elsewhere (e.g., Cappelletto, 2010; Guthrie, Evans, & Burritt, 2014; Pop-Vasileva, Baird, & Blair, 2014), but the study reported in this showcase aimed to gain an understanding of the accounting academic’s lived experience as a whole, using the lens of role theory.


The Initiative/Practice

Through a consideration of accounting academics’ lived experiences as well as the expectations placed upon them by students and university administrators, role theory (Bess & Dee, 2007; Schulz, 2013) was used as the theoretical framework which guided the examination of how role strain from role conflict and role ambiguity may arise from the accounting academics’ perceptions of the requirements of their role.


Methods of evaluative data collection and analysis

Using a phenomenological methodological design to investigate the lived experiences of accounting academics, a multi-methods approach was used that primarily used qualitative methods. Interviews and questionnaires were administered to eight Australian University Accounting Academics from five universities in Australia.


The issue

This paper reports on the particular phenomenon of role strain that was identified in the project’s findings, which affected the accounting academics, specifically in terms of role conflict and role ambiguity.


Intended Outcome

The findings of this study have given a voice to accounting academics and suggest recommendations for how they can adapt to the ever-changing environment of the Australian university system while also finding value and enjoyment in their role. Academic staff from other disciplines may also find these recommendations relevant to their context. The TRAC (Teaching, Research, Workload, Curricula) framework of expectations was developed to document the various expectations that impact on the role of the accounting academic.



Cappelletto, G. (2010). Challenges facing accounting education in Australia. Paper presented at the Accounting and Finance Association of Australia and New Zealand (AFAANZ) Conference, Christchurch, New Zealand.
Guthrie, J., Evans, E., & Burritt, R. (2014). Australian accounting academics: Challenges and possibilities. Meditari Accountancy Research, 22(1), 20-37.
Pop-Vasileva, A., Baird, K., & Blair, B. (2014). The work-related attitudes of Australian accounting academics. Accounting Education, 23(1), 1-21. doi:


Presentation topic

Academics – Changing Academic Practice

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