Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to expose the impact of the shortage of senior academics, particularly professors, in Australian accounting schools, to relate the way one school addressed this shortage through a mentoring scheme, and to challenge existing institutional arrangements.
Design/methodology/approach - This is a contextualised qualitative case study of a mentoring scheme conducted in an Australian accounting school. Data collected from semi-structured interviews, personal reflections and from Australian university web sites are interpreted theoretically using the metaphor of a green drought.
Findings - The mentoring scheme achieved some notable successes, but raised many issues and challenges. Mentoring is a multifaceted investment in vocational endeavour and intellectual infrastructure, which will not occur unless creative means are developed over the long term to overcome current and future shortages of academic mentors.
Research limitations/implications - This is a qualitative case study, which, therefore, limits its generalisability. However, its contextualisation enables insights to be applied to the wider academic environment.
Practical implications - In the Australian and global academic environment, as accounting professors retire in greater numbers, new and creative ways of mentoring will need to be devised. The challenge will be to address longer term issues of academic sustainability, and not just to focus on short-term academic outcomes.
Originality/value - A mentoring scheme based on a collegial networking model of mentoring is presented as a means of enhancing academic endeavour through a creative short-term solution to a shortage of accounting professors. The paper exemplifies the theorising power of metaphor in a qualitative study.