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An investigation into the development of non-technical skills by undergraduate accounting programmes.

Douglas, Shonagh; Gammie, Elizabeth


Shonagh Douglas

Elizabeth Gammie


Non-technical skills are essential for today’s professional accountant who operates in a dynamic socio-technical environment. Accounting degrees have continued to be criticised for failing to develop these skills to the required level. In the Scottish location of this study, employers have responded by seeking out graduates from non-accounting degrees who they perceive have better developed these skills. The research aims to further the debate on non-technical skill development of accounting graduates, interpreted through a lens of institutional theory. Data was collected via a questionnaire to Big 4 ICAS trainees and subsequent interviews with Scottish academics. Pressure, driven normatively by accreditation, for high-levels of technical content was found to result in accountancy degree providers requiring to make prioritisation decisions regarding the development of non-technical skills. Accountancy degree providers appeared to prioritise interpersonal and communication skills at the detriment of intellectual skills. Un-actioned, this could threaten the institutional legitimacy of accountancy degrees.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Jun 30, 2019
Journal Accounting education
Print ISSN 0963-9284
Electronic ISSN 1468-4489
Publisher Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 28
Issue 3
Pages 304-332
Institution Citation DOUGLAS, S. and GAMMIE, E. 2019. An investigation into the development of non-technical skills by undergraduate accounting programmes. Accounting education [online], 28(3), pages 304-332. Available from:
Keywords Accounting education; Intellectual skills; Interpersonal and communication skills; Accreditation; Institutional theory


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