Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Business


The thesis investigates the development of the ‘professional’ in the field of accounting. The research evaluates how and if there is a difference between the realms of accounting education and accounting practice when defining this term “professional/al/ism”. The research further explores how accreditation has impacted this development of the accounting professional. This thesis reviews the concepts, themes and definitions of how an accounting professional is formed from the views of accounting practitioners, academics and students; and provides background to the Australian accreditation system in light of accounting education; American Association of Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CAANZ) and Certified Practising Accountants Australia (CPA).

The thesis examines this formation of an accounting professional through conducting of seventeen (17) open-ended structured and unstructured interviewees with the accounting professionals from a diverse set of accounting backgrounds such as accounting practitioners, accounting academics and accounting students. To gain interpretations of what constitutes an accounting professional analysis was undertaken using the lens of a theory of professions informed by the sociological dimensions outlined by Larson (1977) to examine the interviewees’ responses and observes (beyond the language used in the interviews) the conduct of the interviewees when answering the questions posed to them. To further justify the prevalent themes that have arisen in the interview data, a further interpretative thematic analysis under social semiotics and Gaffikin’s observation on social subjectivity was conducted. This resulted in a multi method approach encapsulates a new theory of professions from a theorists and interviewees point of view. The thesis develops a theory of profession/al/ism in the context of accounting from the viewpoints of the accounting professionals.

In developing a definition for the concept of the accounting professional, elements of education, expertise, experience, culture and marketing and branding are the foremost major themes, according to the interviews conducted for this research. Accounting academics, practitioners, accreditor bodies and students all tend to value the same basic things in association with profession/al/ism: education, expertise, experience, culture and marketing and branding, with the major difference between the two groups being how they rank these factors in importance.

FoR codes (2008)




Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.