Dedication to R. S. Olusegun (Segun) Wallace.
Segun held a number of positions in industry in Nigeria before he decided to become an academic. After holding academic positions in Nigeria he decided to go to Exeter University, England to study for a doctoral degree. The questions he asked of himself were: Could Segun, as a mature student, make it as an academic in an Anglo-Saxon country? How far could he go? It was at Exeter University that I first met Segun but I did not supervise him, that responsibility being given to my senior colleague, Professor Robert Parker. Bob was not only familiar with the area of research that Segun was interested in pursuing, but he also understood the context, having himself worked in Nigeria as an accountant.
After a short period of time at Exeter University, it became clear to academic colleagues that Segun was a person of considerable ability who we expected to successfully complete his doctoral thesis. He became a temporary member of staff at Exeter and was awarded his Ph.D. in 1987. His thesis focused on the variables that were likely to determine the level of disclosure of accounting information in a developing country. Nigeria was used as a case study to test a number of theories about the relationship between accounting and its environment. He used questionnaires to assess whether there were divergent user views and content analysis of Nigerian corporate annual reports. He concluded that external factors (especially old colonial ties, membership of the then IASC, and multinational investment) contributed considerably to explaining de facto financial reporting in Nigeria. External dependence rather than internal factors seemed more important in shaping the country's financial reporting. The examiners were very complimentary about the high standard of his doctoral thesis and he was appointed, soon after, to a permanent position as lecturer in accounting at Exeter University.
Segun's interests in factors influencing accounting dovetailed neatly with two aspects of my research work at that time. First, my work on mergers and acquisitions that involved inter alia a consideration of the literature on country risk analysis (Cooke 1988a) and second work on financial reporting on Sweden, and particularly the extent of disclosure in corporate annual reports (Cooke 1988b). We talked a lot about our respective research interests and decided to link the country risk indices produced by BERI SA with the work undertaken by Gray et al. (1984) and the PW database (1979). We compared the differences in the degree/extent of corporate financial reporting regulation among countries and the differences in patterns between contextual variables and accounting regulation. Our main result was that the relationship between national environmental variables and corporate financial reporting regulation (CFDR) is stronger in developed rather than developing countries. The paper was published in the Journal of Accounting and Public Policy and seems to have been well received (Cooke and Wallace 1990).
Working with Segun was somewhat exhausting because he was a workaholic. Soon he produced a draft paper that considered frameworks for international comparative financial reporting and he asked Bob Parker, Chris Nobes, and me to comment on it. I did not realize at that time that my comments had upset him and had dashed his hopes of working with me to develop the paper further. He contacted Helen Gernon in the U.S. and the two of them developed the paper that was published in the Journal of Accounting Literature (Wallace and Gernon 1991). This paper is heavily cited in the literature and showed my inability to see the potential of the paper at the early draft stage. Helen's gain was my loss, but it served to give Segun the confidence that he did not need my or my colleagues' guidance or support to get published.
The Wallace and Gernon (1991) paper reviewed the different types of cross-national comparison and highlighted that much of the work to that date was of a descriptive nature, emphasizing similarities and differences in accounting systems around the world. The authors quite understandably considered this to be deficient in understanding accounting phenomena, particularly the lack of sound theories that underpinned discussions. In addition, they were critical of poor rigor and of parochial ethnocentric studies. Such criticism was a stark reminder of the infancy in international corporate financial accounting research.
Segun and I worked on three other papers, two that were published in Accounting and Business Research and one in the British Accounting Review. He also worked with other colleagues at Exeter University. His curriculum vitae was blossoming so quickly that in 1991 he obtained a promotion to senior lecturer in accounting at Cardiff University, Wales. There he worked with his new colleagues and published in. Accounting and Business Research and the Journal of Accounting and Public Policy (JAPP). His article with Kamal Naser in JAPP considered firm-specific characteristics of the comprehensiveness of mandatory disclosure in the annual reports of companies in Hong Kong (Wallace and Naser 1995). His international work continued and included one paper on Spain (Wallace and Naser 1994), an international comparison of cash flow statements (Choudhury et al. 1997), and cross-border listings of equities in the U.S. and U.K. (Ndubizu and Wallace 2003). Despite the distance between us, we maintained contact through his visits to Exeter, since we appointed him to be a visiting academic.
By 1994 Segun obtained a promotion to become a full professor at Middlesex University, London and then from 1997 onward as professor of accounting at King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals at Dharan, Saudi Arabia. He was delighted with these promotions since he felt that he had achieved his aim of being a full professor not only in one country but in more than country. I know that he was also offered professorial appointments in the U.S. but was unable to take up such positions for family reasons.
At Middlesex University, Segan transformed accounting from a teaching-only department to become a recognized research unit. He was able to nurture young members of staff through their doctoral theses and help them get published. His strategy was very effective. He was always helpful to members of staff, being generous with his time, but also he was very firm. He expected members of staff to share his goals and to work hard. I saw him at work on a number of occasions when I visited Middlesex University.
Segun's interest in editorial work began in 1990 when he showed his innovative style by starting a new publication entitled Research in Third World Accounting. This annual publication arose, in Segun's own words, "out of the belief that the international accounting literature should devote more attention to the study of the accounting problems and issues of Third World Countries." He gained a substantial reputation for his work in this area. The 1995 publication in this series was renamed as Research in Accounting in Emerging Economies and the editor stated that the new title would capture " ... fully the range of issues the series aims to tackle and encompass properly the set of countries which the annual is intended to cover" (Wallace 1995, xvii). I guess there was the element of political correctness in the change in title.
The chair in accounting position at King Fahd University in Saudi Arabia enabled him to travel quite extensively, attending conferences in different parts of the world. He loved conferences, especially the big ones in America, and he sometimes returned to Britain. I remember him attending an international conference at Warwick University, England. The last paper of the final day was being given and some of the academics were looking a little tired. The paper was given and Segun stood up in his capacity as discussant. For over 20 minutes he went through the paper suggesting improvements and advising where errors had been made. He did it in his own style, becoming more and more animated, pacing the floor and using his humor. Everyone was listening and when he sat down he received a spontaneous and enthusiastic ovation.
We continued to talk together about important accounting issues, despite the distance between us. We spoke over the telephone most weeks and we continued to meet at conferences. We also worked together on chapters on financial reporting in the U.K. that were published in Transnational Accounting (Ordelheide 1995, 2001).
During the later period of the 1990s, his abilities were recognized internationally through appointments to the editorial boards of a number of highly rated journals in Europe and America. In December 2000 Segun was invited to become the first editor of the new American Accounting Association publication, the Journal of International Accounting Research. This was a great honor for any academic, but particularly a non-American. He certainly had achieved his ambition of recognition in the West. He asked if I would serve as an Associate Editor and was delighted to accept as I expected the journal to be a success under his guidance. The first volume came out in 2002 and the second was completed on July 16, 2003, despite him being ill.
I shall remember Segun as a fine academic whose abilities were recognized by the international community of accounting academics. He made an important contribution to the accounting literature, particularly the international aspects of financial reporting. He also made a significant contribution through his editorial work and many academics can be thankful that he was willing to give up so much of his time to help others. He died on July 23, 2003, leaving his wife, Rosemary, who was Editorial Assistant to the Journal of International Accounting Research, two children, and four grandchildren.
Choudhury M., M. Pendlebury, and R. S. O. Wallace. 1997. Cash flow statements: An international comparison of regulatory positions. The International Journal of Accounting 31 (1): 1-22.
Cooke, T. E. 1988a. International Mergers and Acquisitions, Oxford, U.K.: Basil Blackwell
--. 1988b. European Financial Reporting: Sweden. London, U.K.: Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales.
--, and R. S. O. Wallace. 1990. Financial disclosure regulation and its environment: A review and further analysis. Journal of Accounting and Public Policy 9:79-110.
Gray, S., L. B. McSweeney, and J. C. Shaw, eds. 1984. International Financial Reporting in 20 Countries. Basingtoke, U.K.: Macmillan.
Ndubizu, G. A., and R. S. O. Wallace. 2003. Contracts valuation assessment noise and cross-border listings of equities on US and UK stock markets. International Journal of Accounting 38 (4): 397-420.
Ordelheide, D., ed. 1995. Transnational Accounting, Basingstoke, U.K.: Macmillan Press.
--, ed. 2001. Transnational Accounting, Basingstoke, U.K.: Palgrave Publishers.
Price Waterhouse International (1979). International Survey of ,Accounting Principles and Reporting Practices in 64 Countries, edited by R. D. Fitzgerald, A. D. Stickler, and T. R. Watts. Scarborough, Canada: Butterworths.
Wallace, R. S. O., and H. Gernon. 1991.Frameworks for international comparative financial reporting. Journal of Accounting Literature 10: 209-264.
--, K. Naser, and A. Mora. 1994. The relationship between the comprehensiveness of corporate annual reports and firm characteristics in Spain. Accounting and Business Research 25 (97): 41-53.
--. 1995. Preface to Research in Accounting in Emerging Economies. Volume 3. Greenwich, CT: JAI Press.
-- and K. Naser. 1995. Firm-specific characteristics of the comprehensiveness of mandatory disclosure in the corporate annual reports of firms listed on the stock exchange of Hong Kong. Journal of Accounting and Public Policy 14: 41-53.
|Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback|
|Author:||Cooke, Terrence E.|
|Publication:||Journal of International Accounting Research|
|Date:||Jan 1, 2004|
|Previous Article:||Ferdinand A. Gul, Hong Kong Auditing: Economic Theory and Practice.|
|Next Article:||IASCF constitution review: a time to support independent standard setting and academic representation.|