Two professors of accounting at the William E. Simon Graduate School of Business Administration won the American Accounting Association for Seminal Contribution to Accounting Literature Award for their research in accounting, on Aug. 20. Ross L. Watts and Jerold L. Zimmerman received this award for their article, “Towards a Positive Theory of the Determination of Accounting Standards,” published in 1978 for “Accounting Review.” “Our work that started with the cited article was widely recognized as having significantly changed the nature of the accounting research literature,” Watts said. “The formal recognition that is represented by the award was delayed significantly because of opposition from others who had pursued different research approaches.”Meanwhile, Zimmerman felt great honor at receiving the prestigious award. “This award has only been given three times since its inception in 1986, prior to our winning it, and had not been given since 1994,” Zimmerman said. “So, I was surprised to learn that Professor Watts and I had won the award.”They were honored at the association’s annual meeting in Orlando, Fla. among a small group of respected colleagues and received their award, which is considered to be the Nobel Prize for accounting.This prestigious award is given no more often than once every three years. It is awarded in order to acknowledge works that have made an impact over the long term and paved a way for future research. Works are not eligible for this award until they have been published for at least 15 years. At the ceremony, James Jiambalvo, alumni professor of accounting at the University of Washington Business School, congratulated Watts and Zimmerman. “This pioneering piece of research provided new insights into why managers lobby standard setters, but more importantly, it provided a framework, an approach to theory development, that has influenced a generation of researchers, changing the focus of research from how managers should make accounting-related decisions to how managers do in fact make these decisions,” he said. Watts is continuing with his current research. “In December, I will advance my views to a small conference of the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board members and academics,” Watts said. “Katherine Schipper [a Financial Accounting Standards Board member] will present the FASB’s position. The group will then debate the issues.”Meanwhile, Zimmerman will focus his efforts in aiding Simon doctorate students. “[I will] continue to work closely with our Ph.D. students,” he said. “Professor Watts and I edit a highly cited journal, the “Journal of Accounting and Economics.” And [I will] continue to conduct research with my colleagues at the Simon School.”Watts and Zimmerman have frequently published in many journals, including the ‘Journal of Accounting and Economics,’ which they co-founded. They also published one of the most esteemed accounting textbooks, “Positive Accounting Theory.” Dean Mark Zupan feels honored to have them at the school. “The Simon School is privileged to count Ross Watts and Jerry Zimmerman among its world class faculty,” Zupan said. “Both of them are considered pioneers in the field of accounting and this national scholarly recognition is well deserved.”Ricketts can be reached ataricketts@campustimes.org.



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