Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to examine factors influencing the accounting students' career choice in public accounting practices. Design/methodology/approach – Multinomial logistic regression is used to analyze survey data of 214 accounting students from three universities in Hong Kong. Three dependent variables are: pursue a career in public accounting (CPA); general accounting; and a non‐accounting careers. Findings – Results support the TRA model. The two constructs in the model – “intrinsic factors” (attitude toward the behavior) and “parental influence” (subjective norm), make significant and independent contributions to predicting the career choice of accounting students. Results indicate that “intrinsic factors” and “parental influence” have significant influence on the decision whether to select a CPA career. This result is not consistent with the New Zealand study and the Canadian study. Neither the “financial rewards factor” nor the “high school accounting” factor is an influencing factor on the career choice in the post‐Enron. This result is also in contrast to the findings of the literature in the pre‐Enron. The fact that financial rewards variable has no influence on career choice is an interesting finding. There may be a “cultural” factor in Hong Kong linked to the prestige of professions that may outweigh the financial rewards factor. “Flexibility of career options” factor has the highest influencing power among all the variables, possibly influenced by the US Sarbanes Oxley enactments that result in a buoyant job market, and China's convergence with the International Financial Reporting Standards in 2007. Females dominate over males in entering the CPA career or general accounting career. Research limitations/implications – The support of the TRA model in this paper could be applied as a useful theoretical framework to examine other accounting areas. Practical implications – The Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Big 4 firms should exercise more efforts to improve the traditional accountants' negative image as boring and methodical so as to attract bright students to enter the accounting profession. Originality/value – The lack of using a theoretical model and prior studies' limitations make any inferences drawn and generalizations difficult. This paper represents the first to the author's knowledge to use the theory of reasoned action (TRA) model from the social psychological literature to examine the issues into the Hong Kong environment.
Journal of Applied Accounting Research – Emerald Publishing
Published: Jun 1, 2010
Keywords: Public sector accounting; Careers; Students; Hong Kong