By Matthew Biddle
After the COVID-19 pandemic grounded travel, research conferences and workshops, like many other professional activities, shifted to virtual platforms. But as life returns to normal, School of Management accounting faculty have begun presenting their research in person again — sharing insights with fellow scholars and cementing their reputations as thought leaders in the field.
At this year’s Illinois Audit Symposium, for example, a School of Management paper was one of just six selected for the conference. Brandon Szerwo, assistant professor of accounting and law, traveled to the conference to present research he co-authored with his fellow faculty member Joshua Khavis on gender and audit quality. In the study, Szerwo and Khavis found that offices with a higher proportion of female staff auditors had greater audit quality and efficiency.
“It was a great opportunity to interact with and gain feedback from top audit faculty and researchers from around the country and Europe,” Szerwo says. “Additionally, I think the audience came away with many insights on the importance of audit staff in determining quality and efficiency.”
Michael Dambra, associate professor and Kenneth W. Colwell Chair of Accounting and Law, presented at four universities in 2022, including INSEAD in Fontainebleau, France, this fall. In his lecture — which was livestreamed for the university’s Singapore campus as well — Dambra shared his latest work on special purpose acquisition companies, or SPACs.
“Overall, our results affirmed the Securities and Exchange Commission’s concerns regarding the aggressive revenue projections and lack of historical financial information in SPAC transactions,” Dambra says.
At the University of Washington, Dambra met with faculty and doctoral students, and presented research he’s working on now on the impact of accounting employee turnover on financial reporting outcomes.
Meanwhile, Feng Gu, professor and chair of accounting and law, participated in several conferences over the past six months, including the first-ever EY Academic Resource Center Colloquium and the “Accounting for an Ever-Changing World” conference organized by the American Accounting Association and Financial Accounting Standards Board.
At two conferences — one in Taormina, Italy, the other at Stanford University — Gu presented his latest paper, titled “All losses are not alike: Real versus accounting-driven reported losses.” His study demonstrated that there’s a fundamental difference between genuine losses that result from business performance issues, and reported losses that result from expensing intangible investments — but found accounting performance measures do not reflect those differences.