Some of the things I learnt about myself during my PhD journey.
Investigating how accountants perceive fairness in the workplace has been an enlightening and rewarding endeavour, despite the many hurdles faced and the length of time it took to complete as a part-time doctoral degree. However, presenting a constructivist piece of research to a traditionally ‘numbers are king’ audience has been a harrowing process.
Needless-to-say, some humour was needed, if only to cheer me up. A light-hearted attempt at discovery of my subjective self (Peshkin, 1988)* resulted in the arbitrary assignment of cartoon characters to portray the more practical attributes that came to light during my research journey. While association with the various cartoon characters was devised at the end-stage of my project, I was aware of these enduring qualities throughout the research process.
Appearing, in no particular order, are:
Bugs Bunny – for his fearlessness, creativity, and because he is always successful in his endeavours;
Huckleberry Hound – because he is always well intentioned. In addition, ‘huckleberry’ is sometimes used to denote an amateur, which appropriately describes me at the beginning of my journey;
Mr Peabody – for his dedication to academic rigour, and despite his weakness for lame jokes about historical events, it is, nonetheless, a novel way of getting his message across and opening the audience’s eyes to a new way of seeing;
Wile E Coyote – for sheer persistence and his willingness to try new things;
Rocky) (of Rocky & Bullwinkle fame – for being the eternal optimist and trumpeting ethical and moral standards (even if they are extremely Westernised);
Secret Squirrel – for his great detective work;
Snoopy – for his talents at the typewriter and his literary prowess in re-telling a captivating story;
Pinky (from Pinky & the Brain) – because of his polite way of dealing with adversity and the less glamorous bits of life – NARF!
Mutley (from Wacky Races) – it would be wrong to hide my desire for a medal (Gimme, Gimme, Gimme!); and, finally,
Ariel (from The Little Mermaid) – ostensibly for her independence and caring nature, but more importantly because she is the only female in the otherwise all male cast (it’s only fair!).
In employing creative licence and applying deliberate tunnel vision, it goes without saying that there has been some force-fitting and scant regard has been paid to those characteristics that do not apply.
Have I changed because of my PhD research project?
Absolutely, and perhaps in ways I am yet to fully comprehend. I certainly feel that I have grown personally and professionally, and believe that I am now better able to appreciate the accounting psyche, particularly in relation to how fairness is perceived in public accounting firms, and this new understanding has strengthened my affinity with my accounting colleagues in rural and regional Australia.
That’s all folks!
*Peshkin, A. (1988). In search of subjectivity – One’s own. Educational Researcher, 17(7), 17-21.
Author Bio: Charmayne Highfield completed her PhD in accounting in 2013. Recently, she joined the Singapore Accountancy Commission as part of the team responsible for promoting accountancy excellence in the Asia-Pacific region through talent development, professional qualification, research, and thought leadership.