The Accounting Education Gap and Professional Needs: Examining Educational Components Using Grounded Theory

Document Type : Research Paper


1 Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Accounting, Faculty of Economics and Administrative Sciences, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Mashhad, Iran.

2 Associate Prof., Department of Accounting, Faculty of Economics and Administrative Sciences, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Mashhad, Iran.

3 Associate Prof., Department of Curriculum Studies and Instruction, Faculty of Educational Sciences and Psychology, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Mashhad, Iran.



Objective: This study aimed to explore the factors contributing to the misalignment between undergraduate accounting education and professional requirements in Iran and it could present expert perspectives on the essential educational components and curricula necessary to bridge this gap.
Methods: This research was done employing the grounded theory method. For this purpose, concepts and categories were extracted by using the theoretical sampling method and conducting interviews with 14 experts. The steps taken to conduct the research included formulating general research questions, interviewing experts, extracting concepts and categories and their specifications and dimensions, classifying categories using open, Axial and selective coding, and presenting the final research model.
Results: The final model of the gap between undergraduate accounting education and professional needs in Iran was presented in the form of causal conditions, underlying conditions, intervening conditions, strategies, and consequences. Throughout this research, several critical factors were considered, including the evolving legal and regulatory landscape of the country, the rapid technological advancements, the globalization of the accounting profession, and quality-related issues in education. These quality-related concerns encompassed the infrequent changes and updates to curricula and educational materials in response to shifts in the economic and financial environment, as well as the need for ongoing professional development among university professors. Regarding the needs of the profession, it was identified as the causal conditions and factors of the gap. One of the most crucial strategies for mitigating this gap entails reevaluating the weighting and timing of certain course curricula, revising specific lessons and educational programs, enhancing educational materials, elevating the practical knowledge level of students, diversifying teaching methods, and ensuring the adequate supervision of professors' teaching. Additionally, creating an information technology infrastructure for educational purposes, expeditious approval and guidance on the implementation of standards by the audit organization, conducting both virtual and in-person training courses, and encouraging professors' active involvement in professional organizations are all essential measures to bridge the divide. The consequences of the implementation of the strategies include the existence of training courses for all students across the country and the observance of educational justice, the awareness of university professors about the changes that have occurred in the profession with their presence in professional organizations, and as a result, greater coordination between the profession and the university is employing expert professors suitable for each course in universities, using new educational methods, improving the level of students' practical knowledge, reviewing and revising the educational topics that are mentioned in detail in the text.
Conclusion: Due to continuous developments in financial markets, the gap between accounting education and the need for the profession is very important and it is necessary to periodically examine this gap and its causes. According to the strategies presented in this research, several suggestions have been made for some institutions related to the subject of the research. For example, regarding the educational planning committee, it is possible to mention the opportunity to create scope for members of the profession to determine educational curricula, weighting, and prioritization in educational curricula. Regarding the role of universities, efforts should be made to provide sufficient support to theses and theses in the field of education and provide sufficient funding to employ professional professors to teach some courses so that they can share their practical experiences with students in some applied courses such as auditing and or transfer tax laws. Establishing greater convergence of the audit organization with other government institutions such as the tax affairs organization to recognize the standards developed in the preparation of financial statements to reduce ambiguity in the application of some standards can be considered as one of the practical suggestions of this research and a factor to reduce this gap. 


Main Subjects

Abedi, N., Taherabadi, A. A., Kheirollahi, F. & Jamshidi Navid, B. (2022). The Effect of Teaching Method STAD, JIGSAW and Virtual Education on Achieving Students' Cognitive Goals of Financial Statements Based on Bloom's Classification. Accounting and Auditing Review, 29(1), 113-145. doi: 10.22059/acctgrev.2021.330905.1008596
(in Persian)
Albrecht, W. S. & Sack, R. J. (2001). Accounting education: charting the course through a perilous future. Accountig Education Series, 16: JSTOR.
Aleqab, M. M. A., Nurunnabi, M. & Adel, D. (2015). Mind the gap: Accounting information systems curricula development in compliance with IFAC standards in a developing country. Journal of Education for Business, 90(7), 349-358.‏
Allan, G. (2003). A critique of using grounded theory as a research method. Electronic Journal of Business Research Methods, (2), 1-10.
Alozie, C. (2022). Future of Accounting Education, Comparative Review of Divergent Issues in Accounting Education: Evidence from Five Focal Countries. Comparative Review of Divergent Issues in Accounting Education: Evidence from Five Focal Countries (February 27, 2022).‏
Alshbili, I. & Elamer, A. A. (2020). The vocational skills gap in accounting education curricula: Empirical evidence from the UK. International Journal of Management in Education, 14(3), 271-292.
Arab Mazar Yazdi, Mohammad, Hojjat Sabeti and Ali Goli (2007). Accounting Education in the Age of Technology and Communication, Journal of Accounting, 190. 31-26.
(in Persian)
Asnaashari, H., Gholami Fatideh, A., Hooshmand, A. (2022). Education gaps and audit quality. Financial Accounting Knowledge9(4), 95-121. (in Persian)
Boadu, M. & Sorour, K. (2015). On Utilizing Grounded Theory in Business Doctoral Research: Guidance on the Research Design, Procedures, and Challenges. International Journal of Doctoral Studies, 10, 143–166.
Braun, N. M. (2004). Critical thinking in the business curriculum. Journal of Education for Business, 79(4), 232.
Cappelletto, G. (2010). Challenges facing accounting education in Australi, Sydney Melbourne. Available at:
Cheng, Y. (2019, April). Research on the Reform of Accounting Course System Guided by Accounting Education Objectives. In 1st International Symposium on Education, Culture and Social Sciences (ECSS 2019) (pp. 468-472). Atlantis Press.
Creswell, J. W. (2014). Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative And Mixed Methods Approaches (4th Ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Danayeefard, H. (2015) Qualitative inquiry and research design: Choosing among five approaches. Tehran: Saffar publication. (in Persian)
Davidson, R. A. & Baldwin, B. A. (2005). Cognitive skills objectives in intermediate accounting textbooks: Evidence from end-of-chapter material. Journal of Accounting Education, 23(2), 79-95.
Denison, C. (2018). Preparing students for real accounting. Strategic Finance, 100(4), 37-43.‏
Evans, E., Burritt, R. & Guthrie, J. (2010). Accounting Education at a Crossroad in 2010. Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia.
Glaser, B. G. & Strauss, A. L. (1967). The Discovery of Grounded Theory: Strategies for Qualitative Research, Chicago: Aldine Publishing, c1967.
Goulding, C. (2002). Grounded Theory: A Practical Guide for Management, Business Andmarket Researchers. London: Sage.
Hancock, P., Howieson, B., Kavanagh, M., Kent, J., Tempone, I. & Segal, N. (2009). Accounting for the future: more than numbers. Australian Teaching and Learning Council.
Hassall, T., Joyce, J., Montaño, J. L. A. & Anes, J. A. D. (2005). Priorities for the development of vocational skills in management accountants: A European perspective. Accounting Forum, 29(4), 379-394.
Herbert, I. P., Rothwell, A. T., Glover, J. L. & Lambert, S. A. (2021). Does the changing world of professional work need a new approach to accounting education? Accounting Education, 30(2), 188-212.
Howard, A. & Warwick, J. (2013). Exploring the curriculum gap: Some thoughts on management accounting education and curriculum design. MSOR Connections, 13(2), 51-60.
Jabbar, F. S. (2022). The reality of gap between fundamentals of accounting education and the requirements of accounting market (A field study of a sample of Iraqi Universities). Webology, 19(1).‏
Jamei, R. (2018). Investigating the Appropriateness of the Content and Methods of Accounting Education (MA) with the Labor Market Required Skills: From the Perspective of Accounting PhD Students, University Professors and Members of the Iranian Society of CPAs. Research in Teaching, 6 (3), 218-233. Doi 20.1001.1.24765686.1397.
(in Persian)
Kavanagh, M. & Drennan, L. (2008). What skills and attributes does an accounting graduate need? Evidence from student perceptions and employer expectations. Accounting and Finance, 48(2), 279-300.
Laing, G. & Perrin, R. W. (2012). Integration of a computer application in a first year accounting curriculum: An evaluation of student attitudes. Higher Education Studies, 2(2), 1-8.‏
Lawson, R. A., Blocher, E. J., Brewer, P. C., Cokins, G., Sorensen, J. E., Stout, D. E., . . . Wouters, M. J. (2013). Focusing accounting curricula on students' long-run careers: Recommendations for an integrated competency-based framework for accounting education. Issues in Accounting Education, 29(2), 295-317.
Lee, T. A. & Williams, P. F. (1999). Accounting from the inside: legitimizing the accounting academic elite. Critical Perspectives on Accounting, 10(6), 867-895.
Lin, Z. J., Xiong, X. & Liu, M. (2005). Knowledge base and skill development in accounting education: Evidence from China. Journal of Accounting Education, 23(3), 149-169.
London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) (2018). Prospectus of the Undergraduate Programmes for the 2018 / 2018 academic session.
Mandilas, A., Kourtidis, D. & Petasakis, Y. (2014). Accounting curriculum and market needs. Education+ Training, 56(8/9), 776–794.
Marzo-Navarro, M., Pedraja-Iglesias, M. and Rivera-Torres, P. (2009). Curriculum profile of university graduates versus business demands is there a fit or mismatch in Spain? Education and Training, 51(1), 56-69.
Mashayekhi, B. & Shafi Poor, S. M. (2012). Investigation of Accounting Education System Efficiency in Iranian Universities. Accounting and Auditing Review, 19(67), 119-142. doi: 10.22059/acctgrev.2012.28801. (in Persian)
Matar, M., Noor, A. & Al-Ramahi, N. (2015, September). Advancement of university accounting education to achieve the conditions set forth in the international accounting education standards [Conference session]. 11th Jordan Association of Certified Public Accountants Conference, Amman, Jordon.
Mautz, R. (1974). The Over-Intellectualization of Accounting Education. Accounting Education: problems and prospects, ed. J. D. Edwards. American Accounting Association.
Mohamed, E. K. & Lashine, S. H. (2003). Accounting knowledge and skills and the challenges of a global business environment. Managerial Finance, 29(7), 3-16.
Mohammadi, M. & Abbasi, Y. (2013). History of accounting education in Iran (before education in universities), Articles of Iran Accounting Conference, Mashhad, Ferdowsi University. (in Persian)
Namazi, N. R. & Salehi, T. (2022). Identify and Ranking Active Learning Methods in Accounting Education Using the Fuzzy Analysis Hierarchy Process. Journal of Accounting and Social Interests12(3), 45-70. (in Persian)
Nassar, M., Al-Khadash, H. & Mah’d, O. (2013). Accounting education and accountancy profession in Jordan: The current status and the processes of improvement. Research Journal of Finance and Accounting, 4(11), 107–119.
Ngoo, Y. T., Tiong, K. M. & Pok, W. F. (2015). Bridging the Gap of Perceived Skills between Employers and Accounting Graduates in Malaysia. American Journal of Economics, 5(2), 98-104.
Piri Sagharloo, M., Tahriri, A. & Hejazi, R. (2021). Development of Accounting in Iranian Universities. Accounting and Auditing Review, 28(3), 398434. doi:10.22059/acctgrev.2021.318223.1008509.
Pratama, A. (2015). Bridging the gap between academicians and practitioners on accountant competencies: an analysis of international education standards (IES) implementation on Indonesia's accounting education. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 211, 19-26.‏
Salehi, M., Nasirzaeh, F., Rostami, V. (2014). Accounting Education Challenge from of the Accounting Professions and Academics Perception, Case of Iranian Accounting society, Audit Science, 14(1), 67-87. (in Persian)
Salehi, M., Rostami, V. & Mogadam, A. (2010). Usefulness of accounting information system in emerging economy: Empirical evidence of Iran. International Journal of Economics and Finance, 2(2), 186-195.
Senik, R. (2007). Understanding information technology skills development in undergraduate accounting programme: a grounded theory study. University of Southampton.
Srdar, N. A. (2017). The gap between learning and teaching in accounting education: The Saudi Arabian experience (Doctoral dissertation, University of Portsmouth).‏
Stoner, G. & Milner, M. (2010). Embedding generic employability skills in an accounting degree: development and impediments. Accounting Education: an international journal, 19(1-2), 123-138.
Strauss, A. & Corbin, J. (1990). Basics Of Qualitative Research: Grounded Theory Procedures And Techniques. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
Strauss, A. & Corbin, J. (1998). Basics of Qualitative Research: Techniques And Procedures For Developing Grounded Theory, (2th ed.). Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks, CA, USA.
Tan, A. & Ferreira, A. (2012). The effects of the use of activity-based costing software in the learning process: an empirical analysis. Accounting Education, 21(4), 407-429.
Tan, L. M. & Laswad, F. (2018). Professional skills required of accountants: what do job advertisements tell us? Accounting Education, 27(4), 403-432.
Tan, L. M., Fowler, M. B. & Hawkes, L. (2004). Management accounting curricula: striking a balance between the views of educators and practitioners. Accounting Education, 13(1), 51-67.
Tavasoli, F., Bagherpour Valashani, M. A. & Saee, M. J. (2017). Examination of the Accounting Education Expectation Gap as a Result of the Current Legal Requirements. Empirical Studies in Financial Accounting, 14(54), 95-118. (in Persian)
Venter, E. (2001). A constructivist approach to learning and teaching. South African Journal of Higher Education, 15(2), 86-92.
Wilson, R. M. (2014). The Routledge companion to accounting education, Routledge.
Wilson, V. (2014). Research methods: triangulation. Evidence based library and information practice, 9(1), 74-75.‏
Yang, L. H., Zhang, C. & Liang, X. T. (2018, May). Research on Reform and Innovation of Accounting Manual Training. In 4th Annual International Conference on Management, Economics and Social Development (ICMESD 2018). Atlantis Press.
Zeff, S. A. (2016). Memorial Articles for 20th Century American Accounting Leaders (Vol. 49). Routledge.