This August, Dr. Kimberly Swanson Church, director of the School of Accountancy at Missouri State University, will receive the Accounting Horizons Best Paper Award from the American Accounting Association for her accounting information systems (AIS) research.
“It’s almost inconceivable,” Church said. “I don’t think I’ve processed it yet. This was never something I dreamed could happen.”
Church’s award-winning research all stemmed from an article in The Wall Street Journal: “Stop Using Excel, Finance Chiefs Tell Staffs.”
The article addressed some of the major accounting limitations associated with Microsoft Excel.
There was an uproar from those in the accounting profession following the original article. So, the Journal published a follow-up piece: “Finance Pros Say You’ll Have to Pry Excel Out of Their Cold, Dead Hands.”
“The most important part about the first Wall Street Journal article is the visceral reaction it got,” Church said.
The havoc sparked Church’s research: “Investigating Accountants’ Resistance to Move beyond Excel and Adopt New Data Analytics Technology.”
Church found a major disconnect between large accounting firms and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
Large firms have the money and resources to invest in information technology options outside of Excel, while SMEs typically do not have the same resources.
New technology is often risky, and due to high prices associated with tech startups, most SMEs don’t jump at the new opportunities.
As a result, SMEs tend to stick with Excel because they are comfortable with it. It’s a source of security.
An educational balancing act
Since Church confirmed the disconnect between large firms and SMEs, her research team is now on to the next task: figuring out how to balance the two for the benefit of students.
The data she collects provides valuable industry intel, which will help shape and prepare the next generation of accounting students who graduate from MSU.
Her research team includes Dr. Pam Schmidt from Washburn University and Dr. Jennifer Riley from University of Nebraska-Omaha.