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Student-Doctoral Education Fit: Factors affecting Accounting Doctoral Timely, Untimely and Non-Completion

Wednesday 25 October 11:15 until 12:30
Jubilee G32
Speaker: Anne-Marie Ward (Ulster University)
Part of the series: Accounting Research Seminars


There is a shortage of accounting doctoral graduates and an increasing demand for this resource. The shortage can be examined from two viewpoints, barriers to entry and retention. Examined through the lens of fit theory, which predicts superior performance when there is student-doctoral education fit, our study provides insights on retention. In particular, it identifies fit factors that cause doctoral-studies under-performance (untimely completion or withdrawal).

Fit is examined using a multi-dimensional model of student-doctoral environment fit (including student-organisation fit, student-private environment fit and student-people fit), student-vocation fit (including student-motivation fit and student-learning environment fit) and student-doctoral culture fit (student-learning identity fit, student-writing fit and student-personal characteristics fit). We surveyed 36 doctoral students using an in-depth 39-question survey instrument.

We find that the most influential factors causing divergence from fit emanate from students’ private environment, including external workload, family commitments, other commitments and ill health. Personal characteristics also contributed to a loss of fit, with students identifying difficulties with time management and project management as having a negative influence on timely completion.

This research has policy implications. Our findings suggest that doctoral education provision does not sufficiently alter fit and thus cause student misfit. Doctoral programme administrators need to investigate ways of equipping doctoral students to manage their private environments and focus more attention on time management and project management support.


Anne Marie Ward is Professor of Accounting at Ulster University. Her research to date has centered on issues affecting non-profit financial institutions, including performance, development, management models, volunteering, subsidization, regulatory compliance, sector growth, gender leadership and the role of institutions and political elites. Anne Marie has over 80 publications, including four textbooks, chapters in textbooks, published case studies, technical publications for the profession, professional articles, research reports and peer reviewed academic articles. She has published across a wide range of journals including the Journal of Business, Finance and Accounting, the Journal of Business Ethics, Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, the British Accounting Review and Financial Accountability and Management.

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By: Jessica Kistnasamy
Last updated: Thursday, 19 October 2017