Are public sector accounting researchers going through an identity shift due to the increasing importance of journal rankings?

Daniela Argento, Jan van Helden

Forskningsoutput: Övriga bidrag


Researchers in general and public sector accounting (PSA) researchers in particular are faced with increasing pressures to publish in international top journals. Recruitment procedures for new staff members, protocols for the quality assessment of existing staff members and decisions for funding research are impacted by publication metrics. This paper aims to unravel the impact of the increasing importance of publication metrics on the identity of PSA researchers. Identity of professions is applied as a theoretical lens and so-called real-life constructs are developed for empirical investigations through interviews with senior researchers. The increasing importance of publication metrics can be seen as the major pressure. However, our findings reveal that various other pressures exist, especially publishing in niche journals, doing societally relevant work, conducting high-quality teaching and serving niche-specific audiences through research. Two basic reactions to competing pressures are observed. On the one hand, a conformance/adaption reaction to the major pressure, at the expense of other pressures (for instance, by adapting to the requirements of top accounting journals, and lessening connections with the PSA field). On the other hand, resistance to the major pressure in order to preserve values attached to the other pressures (for example, by ignoring pressures from publication metrics and remaining connected to the PSA field and its journals). In addition, we found in-between reactions, ranging from a balancing of competing pressures (for example, in two-pillar publication strategies), and a reinforcing reaction (for example, seeing work for practice as an input to high-quality research), to reshaping of work devices (e.g. by distinguishing between mixed research-teaching jobs and pure teaching jobs, and/or developing career paths for excellent teachers in addition to those for excellent researchers). Also manipulation strategies can be observed, such as recycling research outcomes in different publications. Finally, researchers sometimes show opposing reactions at the same time, such as adapting to more demanding publication targets and questioning those targets. There is no evidence for an identity shift towards an ‘academic performer’, because researchers are primarily inspired by problems of public sector organizations or society at large, though young scholars may be faced with too demanding publication targets, which could give rise to an identity shift of an ‘academic performer’.

StatusPublicerad - 2020

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