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Keeping Tabs

Tax policy updates and shifting SEC regulations come and go from the headlines. How effective is this legislation, though, and who does it benefit? These are just some of the important questions asked in the research from the Lundquist College School of Accounting.

This work has now placed Lundquist College faculty among the top 20 most-published in leading accounting journals, putting the department alongside much larger programs at the University of Texas at Austin and University of Southern California.

Director of the Lundquist College School of Accounting Ryan Wilson said this ranking is particularly meaningful considering the relatively small size of his department. The overall quality of research also creates better educational outcomes for students, he said.

“Great researchers are very often great teachers,” Wilson continued. These rigorous investigations contribute new ideas to accounting policy, forcing faculty to think more deeply, “not just how the rules are applied,” Wilson added, “but why they’re applied the way that they are, and the impact they have on stakeholders. That comes through to our students,” he said.

Most notably, though, the world of business moves at its own pace, and the school’s accounting research examines the results, Wilson explained. Such is the case with what are called special-purpose acquisition companies, or SPACs—a new way for private companies to go public outside the traditional IPO process.

According to Wilson, SPACs are pools of cash with a management team looking to buy private companies and take them public. Lundquist accounting research into the SPAC phenomenon asks, what is the accounting quality of companies that have become public via a SPAC merger, rather than a traditional IPO process?

These findings are particularly relevant to the SEC, where regulators are running to catch up to this new phenomenon, Wilson said, and Lundquist accounting research is there to help.

Research from the School of Accounting otherwise excels in three primary areas, Wilson said: accounting theory, financial accounting research, and tax research. Specific examples of topics explored include the relationship between public company financial disclosures and equity pricing, and the 2018 federal tax cuts, inquiring how firms responded to the legislation, who were the winners and losers, and whether or not the tax cuts had the desired effect.

Dane Christensen, an associate professor of accounting at the Lundquist College, said the culture fostered by past and current senior accounting faculty contributes to quality research.

“They have created a relaxed, friendly environment where people work hard and strive for excellence,” Christensen said. “This great culture has helped attract world-class scholars, who continue to unlock new knowledge that is informative to investors, policy makers, and society.”

—William Kennedy, Lundquist College Communications