Trait

Same types of people attracted over time to professional accounting. Or so the research says. In a 2011 article,”Personality Traits and Career Satisfaction of Accounting Professionals” by Levy et. al,* the established “Big Five” traits are examined. These are:

Agreeableness/Teamwork
Conscientiousness
Emotional stability
Extraversion
Openness

All are found to be related to the career satisfaction of professional accountants.

Four “narrow traits” are also found to be significantly related to career satisfaction of professional accountants:

Assertiveness
Customer service orientation
Optimism
Work drive

What was also found:

Conscientiousness was higher for accountants than for other professionals in the sample.

The highest correlation with carer satisfaction was emotional stability, though accountants possessed lower levels of this trait, compared to other professionals.

Extraversion was highly correlated with career satisfaction among accountants, though accountants as a group were more introverted than other professionals.

A more general finding was that the personality profiles of accounting professionals have remained fairly constant over time, as has been the finding of other research, in relation to accounting students. At the same time, it is said that the environmental demands upon accountants have changed dramatically and that the professional accountant will have to develop broader core competencies:

Among these were: communication and leadership skills, being responsive to dynamic changes in client and market needs, and ability to interpret the broader context of financial and non-financial information. Wheeler (2001) noted that these competencies require “important changes in the nature of being an accountant” especially as they relate to the personality makeup of accountants. Briggs Copeland and Hayes (2007) expressed great concern about the profession adapting to those changes. The results of their five-year study of accounting students’ personal preferences echoed the findings of decades of investigation of the personalities of accountants, which found that they are generally introverted, logical, structured and detail-oriented professionals who strongly prefer stability over change (cf. Wheeler, 2001). WE can infer from these findings that he tyupical accountant will likely become increasingly dissatisfied as the work environment continues adapting to the ever-changing marketplace.

Briggs, S. P., S. Copeland and D. Haynes
2007 Accountants for the 21st century, where are you? A five-year study of accounting students’ personality preferences. Critical Perspectives in Accounting 18: 511-537.

Wheeler, P.
2001 The Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator and applications to accounting education and research. Issues in Accounting Education 16: 125-150.

So how does one address how much of it is trait, or how much of it is personality shaped by situations? Accountants who “fit” in one environment being replaced by “misfits”, as the environment changes?
___________________________________________________
*Jacob J. Levy, John D. Richardson, John W. Lounsbury, Destin Stewart, Lucy W. Gibson and Adam W. Drost.

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About brucelarochelle

Practising Lawyer and Part-Time University Instructor (Accounting, Commercial Law, Organizational Behaviour); Part-Time Federal Tribunal Member. Non-practising Chartered Professional Accountant (Chartered Accountant and Certified Management Accountant).
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