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‘Impact-centred’

Business professor bridging gap between academia and community

Research

By Susan White

Recent research that explores the gap between skills being taught in university and those required by the accounting profession has been recognized at Memorial for its important impact on the business world.

Dr. Peggy Coady has won the first Faculty of Business Administration Advisory Board Research Impact Award for her paper, Positioning of Emotional Intelligence Skills within the Overall Skillset of Practice-based Accounts: Employer and Graduate Requirements.

Dr. Peggy Coady has won a new award that recognizes the impact of her research.
Dr. Peggy Coady has won a new award that recognizes the impact of her research.
Photo: Dave Howells

“I’m honoured to win this award,” said Dr. Coady. “It acknowledges the importance of research involving our students and, in particular, whether we are preparing them to meet the expectations of employers.”

Dr. Coady looked at a variety of emotional and non-emotional intelligence skills imparted by business schools and whether they’re viewed as important and relevant by accounting graduates and employers.

“In other words, is what we’re teaching meeting the needs of the accounting profession? The answer is not exactly,” said Dr. Coady.

Balance of emotional and non-emotional skills

The study revealed that emphasis on some emotional intelligence skills, such as those related to customer and client service and developing relationships, could be increased. Similarly, some non-emotional intelligence skills also require more emphasis – those related to oral and written communication skills, for example.

” . . . serious consideration should be given to the role of social and emotional skills when we are developing business school curricula.” — Dr. Peggy Coady

Still other skills currently being taught could be given less focus (technical skills related to management accounting and information technology, as well as emotional skills such as self-awareness and inspiration are some examples).

The study offers a nuanced look at evidence that existing accounting programs in Atlantic Canada are meeting workforce needs in some respects but not in others, says Dr. Coady, which impacts how accounting programs should be designed and delivered.

“It’s clear that serious consideration should be given to the role of social and emotional skills when we are developing business school curricula.”

National recognition

Originally published in Accounting Education in 2017, Dr. Coady’s research was also included in the Conference Board of Canada’s 2018 report, Are Canadian Business Schools Teaching Social and Emotional Skills?

The report looks at challenges faced by business schools across the country and was recognized by Academica Group as one of the top 10 most important stories affecting higher education in 2018.

The conference board is Canada’s foremost independent research organization, while Academica Group is a consultancy agency focused on higher education.

Karl Smith of Fortis Inc. is the new chair of the business faculty's advisory board.
Karl Smith is chair of the business faculty’s advisory board.
Photo: Dave Howells

Karl Smith is the chair of the business faculty’s advisory board. He says Dr. Coady’s research was selected for demonstrating the importance of emotional intelligence curricula in post-secondary education.

“Dr. Coady’s research demonstrates that these skills can be taught, and that business schools have a role in this process,” he said. “It’s research that is applicable to all sectors of the business community.”

Global conversation

Dr. Isabelle Dostaler, dean of the business faculty, says the new award highlights business research at Memorial that has real-world implications and also reflects a larger conversation that business schools around the world are having about their purpose and role.

“There is lots of talk among business school deans that business schools were traditionally teaching-centred, but then they shifted towards becoming more research-centred with ambitious and rigorous research agendas,” she said. “But now it’s time for us to be impact-centred.”

“This award . . . allows our advisory board to be more aware of what we do here as researchers and to make sure that we are connecting to the community.” — Dr. Isabelle Dostaler

The award is innovative in the sense that the winner is selected by the faculty’s advisory board – primarily leaders in the local business community – who were asked to evaluate the research impact on teaching, practice or policy, and the extent to which the research could impact their own business practice.

“There is a gap between academic research and the community,” said Dr. Dostaler. “This award provides a middle ground that allows our advisory board to be more aware of what we do here as researchers and to make sure that we are connecting to the community.”

Dr. Dostaler has been invited to speak about the new award at the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)’s International Conference and Annual Meeting later this year. As the most prestigious accrediting body for business schools around the world, the AACSB encourages business research that is applicable to industries.

Dr. Coady’s paper was co-authored by Dr. Sean Byrne and Prof.  John Casey of the Waterford Institute of Technology in Waterford, Ireland.


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