From novice to expert: A phenomenographic study of chartered accountants in Ireland.

MURPHY, Brid. (2014). From novice to expert: A phenomenographic study of chartered accountants in Ireland. Doctoral, Sheffield Hallam University (United Kingdom)..

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Abstract

The ability of accountants to appropriately perform in practice is linked to over-arching professional competence. Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is the current 'solution' within the accounting profession with reference to post-qualification maintenance and development of professional competence. However, there is a lack of evidence in the literature to demonstrate how CPD supports accounting practitioners as they seek to maintain and further develop their professional competence. The objective of this thesis is to examine this 'gap'. The thesis explores how practitioners perceive competence in the context of their professional status and how, through engagement with CPD, they maintain and develop their professional competence.This study is situated within the largest professional accounting body operating in Ireland, Chartered Accountants Ireland (CAI). Interviews were conducted with members of CAI and a phenomenographic approach was used to examine participants' perceptions and practices with regard to professional competence and continuing engagement with professional development.Variations were evident with regard to participants' perceptions of professional status and professional competence. Variations also emerged in relation to participants' experiences of maintaining and developing professional competence. These variations pertain to distinct practitioner lifeworlds; comprising practice versus non-practice, gender and experiential stages.The 'essence' of the professional competence phenomenon highlighted that practitioners experience a series of developmental 'blocks', at varying experiential stages. These experiential stages are novice, competent, proficient and expert. There are varying foci at each experiential stage. There are also varying perceptions of professional competence at each stage: professional competence comprises personal (innate), knowledge ('know that') and social ('know how') competences but there is strong differentiation within each of these categories at each distinct experiential stage, with a focus on knowledge competence at novice stage and an emphasis on social competence at expert stage. Lifelong learning elements accompany each developmental 'block'. The maintenance and development of professional competence is thus akin to a progressive, unceasing, process which encapsulates lifelong learning. Furthermore, it is apparent that no one particular mode of learning is sufficient i.e. as practitioners gain more experience and develop more expertise, their modes of learning change. At early experiential stages, the focus is on formal learning, 'amassing' large volumes of prescriptive technical knowledge and techniques, with little acknowledgement of actual role experiences. As practitioners progress, the value of experience is acknowledged and there is a growing autonomy with regard to what and how competences are learned and developed. There is also increasing reliance on learning through engagement with others. At more advanced experiential stages, learning largely results from experiences and is more holistic and intuitive.The study extends the application of phenomenographic research to the accounting practitioner domain. It also adds to existing literature by providing a detailed account of the work of accounting practitioners and of their perceptions and practices with regard to professional competence and professional development. The study thus provides a backdrop of developmental experiences and a means of facilitating CAI to affect a more 'rounded' and practical developmental approach for its member practitioners.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Additional Information: Thesis (Ph.D.)--Sheffield Hallam University (United Kingdom), 2014.
Research Institute, Centre or Group: Sheffield Hallam Doctoral Theses
Depositing User: EPrints Services
Date Deposited: 10 Apr 2018 17:21
Last Modified: 10 Apr 2018 17:21
URI: http://shura.shu.ac.uk/id/eprint/20104

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