Publication Details

This conference paper was originally published as Irvine, H, Moerman, L & Rudkin, K, Mentoring in academe: an Australian response to the drought of senior accounting academics, AFAANZ/IAAER Conference 2008, Sydney, 6-8 July 2008.


The purpose of this paper is to expose the shortage of senior academics in Australian accounting schools, to relate the way one school is addressing this crisis through an innovative mentoring program, and to challenge existing institutional arrangements. This is a qualitative case study of one mentoring program set within the institutional context of Australian accounting schools. Data collected from semi-structured interviews, archival sources and personal reflections, is presented using metaphor to theorize (Llewellyn 2003). The scheme achieved some notable individual successes, but raised many issues and challenges to extant mentoring models and existing structures. 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 chronic staff shortages. The paper tells the story about one mentoring project in one Australian university, thus limiting its generalisability. The use of metaphor to theorise and explain qualitative data carries its own inherent limitations. This mentoring scheme exemplifies the possibility of finding creative solutions to staff shortages, but acknowledges the need for major structural changes. The paper makes three contributions: first, it addresses the lacuna in research mentoring for accounting academics; secondly, it uses metaphor as theory in a qualitative research paper, in response to Llewelyn’s (2003) observation that metaphor in qualitative research is both undervalued and underdeveloped; and thirdly, by exposing a crisis in Australian accounting schools the paper opens debate on how that crisis can best be addressed.

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