Purpose and gift : resisting vocational capture in accounting education : the story from one Scottish university
The existing literature in accounting education identifies much that needs attention. Among the many findings, current research highlights a particularly uneasy relationship between accounting students and their chosen discipline. While accounting students work hard to succeed at university and secure graduate work as accountants, they overwhelmingly display an observable sense of detachment towards their chosen course of study (Lucas, 2005). In the wake of Inman et al's assertion that accounting's 'brightest and best' prefer other disciplines (1989), much work and attention has been directed at understanding what this might mean for the profession. In contrast, there is currently very little research in accounting asking what such detachment might mean for the students themselves. How do accounting students experience the contradictions of accounting education as identified by both literature and practice, and what do these tensions mean for the students and their lives? To explore these questions, the thesis uses the concept of vocation and draws from a number of sources including theological texts. This research proposes the time and energy students invest in accounting, while simultaneously remaining detached and largely unfulfilled by the discipline, represents what is essentially a crisis of vocation. By seeking to understand how the pressures of accounting education exert themselves on the lives of accounting students, and by developing the concept of vocation to inform the ways that they might consider important decisions about their future, the thesis aims to highlight the conflict of hopes experienced by so many accounting students today.