The American Institute of Accountants’ aptitude testing experiment in the 1940s: An initiative to increase the supply of able accountants

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

This study investigates the American Institute of Accountants’ development of aptitude testing in the 1940s, drawing on Abbott's system of professions as a theoretical framework. The Institute began to emphasise the importance of the CPA designation among its members in the 1930s. Whereas this change in emphasis made public accounting more prestigious as a professional pursuit, the increased barriers to entry and the onset of WW2 led to a shortage of qualified individuals entering the profession. The Institute established a committee addressing this shortage through the development of aptitude tests administered to undergraduate students. Based on previously unexamined empirical evidence from the University of Illinois Archives, this study is the first to investigate this historical episode and, in so doing, contribute to our understanding of the development of the American accounting profession, the curious case of testing for aptitude in accounting, and the prevailing separation between the profession and universities in the training of students that seek to enter public accounting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalAccounting History
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2023

Keywords

  • American Institute of Accountants
  • Committee on Selection of Personnel
  • accounting examination
  • aptitude testing
  • sociology of professions
  • system of professions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Accounting
  • History

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