Accounting Dissertation Topics

Accounting Dissertation Topics

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Example accounting dissertation topic 1:

A comparative evaluation of the success of ‘green' accounting policy within the finance departments of two major UK universities

‘Green' accounting seeks to incorporate the costs of environmental measures into the financial reports of companies and organisations. Numerous universities in the UK promote their ‘green' credentials, for example through new ‘green' building programmes, recycling, limited access to vehicles and so on. However, how much do universities acknowledge these factors in their financial accounts? This study will examine the public accounts of two universities with a view to the complete inclusion of ‘green' undertakings and determines whether there are significant cost differences or that universities suppress the true cost of such measures.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Gallhofer, S. and Haslam, J. (1997) ‘The direction of green accounting policy: Critical reflections', Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Vol. 10(2), pp.148-174.
  • Larrinaga-Gonzalez, C. and Bebbington, J. (2001) ‘Accounting change or institutional appropriation?—A case study of the implementation of environmental accounting', Critical Perspectives on Accounting, Vol. 12(3), pp. 269-292.

Example accounting dissertation topic 2:

An analysis of the extent to which intellectual capital is a hidden value in company financial statements with reference to Nokia, Samsung and Microsoft.

Intellectual capital is the knowledge, skills and talent of the employees of an organization. Accordingly, it is an intangible asset that helps an organisation to achieve its core competences. However, as intellectual capital implies the skills and knowledge of the employees it is difficult to classify into monetary terms leading to a number of difficulties in its quantification upon the balance sheet. Within this dissertation these contentions are assessed through a case study of three firms: Nokia, Samsung and Microsoft, and their financial statements are analysed for the four year period 2007 to 2011.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Klein, D.A. (1998) The strategic management of intellectual capital. Boston: Butterworth-Heinemann.
  • Kok, A. (2007) ‘Intellectual capital management as part of knowledge management initiatives at institutions of higher learning'. Electronic Journal of Knowledge Management. Vol. 5(2), pp. 181-192.
  • Lin, C.Y. and Edvinsson, L. (2010) National intellectual capital: A Comparison of 40 countries. New York: Springer.
  • Marr, B. (2005) Perspectives on intellectual capital. Boston: Butterworth-Heinemann.

Example accounting dissertation topic 3:

A critical audit of the Financial Performance and Business of TUI Travel Plc.

Using Pestel and SWOT analysis this accounting dissertation analyses the past four year's annual reports and financial statements of TUI Travel. Thereafter this study compares the market position of TU with one of its largest competitors: Thomas Cook. This dissertation accordingly has three over-riding objectives; to assess the present market position of TUI. Secondly, it analyses the current and future potential market environments in which the firm operates. Thirdly, it offers recommendations as to how TUI can further enhance its present market strength through comparing the strategies that it employs with those of Thomas Cook.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Dale, C. (2000) ‘The UK tour operating industry: A competitive analysis'. Journal of Vacation Marketing, Vol. 6(4), pp.357-367.
  • Evans, N., Campbell, D. and Stonehouse, G. (2003) Strategic management for travel and tourism. Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann.
  • Porter, M.E. (1998) Competitive strategy: Techniques for analyzing industries and competitors. New York: Free Press.

Example accounting dissertation topic 4:

An evaluation of the role and effectiveness of audit committees in India and Saudi Arabia: A comparative study

Audit committees are ‘sub-committees of largely non-executive directors whose work encompasses matters relating to audit, financial reporting and internal control' (Al-Twaijry et al., 2002: 289). Accordingly, this dissertation seeks to compare and contrast the roles and processes used by audit committees in two developing countries: Saudi Arabia and India. Through so doing it further seeks to evaluates the extent to which their incorporation has resulted in changes to corporate governance that bring the internal auditing regimes in both countries more into line with those of the western hemisphere. This is therefore a dissertation that not only compares two countries but additionally thereafter contextualises those findings within a wider global arena.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Al-Twaijry, A., Brierley, J. and Gwilliam, D. (2002) ‘An examination of the role of audit committees in the Saudi Arabian corporate sector', Corporate Governance, Vol. 10(4), pp.288-297.
  • Al-Mudhaki, J. and Joshi, P.L. (2004) ‘The role and functions of audit committees in Indian corporate governance: Empirical findings', International Journal of Auditing, Vol. 8, pp. 33-47.
  • Turley, S. and Zaman, M. (2007) ‘Audit committee effectiveness: Informal processes and behavioural effects', Accounting, Auditing Accountability Journal, Vol. 20(5), pp. 765- 788.

Example accounting dissertation topic 5:

An analysis of the existing and future likely growth patterns of Thornton's and Hotel Chocolate based on Z score analysis

This dissertation applies Z score analysis to two competing firms upon the British high street. The stores chosen both represent middle to high end chocolatiers and whilst one is a long term established name the other is a relative newcomer. Through an analysis of their business reports, annual reports and share prices, this study not only comments on their existing market positions but also the nature of their likely growth over the coming two years. This is a dissertation that combines practical financial models with statistics to provide a dynamic analysis of the economic realities of a sectoral interest within the UK.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Brigham, E.F. and Ehrhardt, M.C. (2010) Financial management theory and practice. Mason, OH: Cengage Learning.
  • Caroll, G.E. (2010) Corporate reputation and the news media: Agenda-setting within business news coverage in developed, emerging, and frontier markets. New York: Taylor Francis.
  • Fisher, M., Fisher, M.L. and Raman, A. (2010) The new science of retailing: How analytics are transforming the supply chain and improving performance. Boston: Harvard Business Press.
  • Grossman, T. and Livingstone, J.L. (2009) The portable MBA in finance and accounting. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley Sons.

Example accounting dissertation topic 6:

The influence of business education among senior executives of SMEs with regard to hedging behaviour

How do the senior executives in small to medium enterprises (SMEs) determine the appropriate use of derivatives? Various factors can be assumed to affect hedging behaviour, such as risk perception and existing risk exposure. However, the level of professional expertise - such as can be gained through educational qualifications such as MBAs, accounting or economics degrees - is not widely examined as part of the decision-making process. This study surveys more than 100 firms to determine whether such decisions are largely outsourced because of insufficient internal expertise, or whether management is sufficiently qualified to make such decision.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Joost, M.E. and Pennings, P.G. (2004) ‘Hedging behavior in small and medium-sized enterprises: The role of unobserved heterogeneity', Journal of Banking and Finance, Vol. 28(5), pp. 951-978.
  • McLaney E.J. (2009) Business finance: Theory and practice. London: Prentice Hall/Financial Times.

Example accounting dissertation topic 7:

An analysis of the value relevance of accounting information within the UK after the adoption of International Financial Reporting Standards

As of January, 2005, all listed companies in the UK are required to prepare their financial statement in accordance with the IFRS. This empirical study investigates three distinct aspects. First, it considers the accounting differences between the UK standards and IFRS. Secondly, the study explores the changes in value relevance of UK GAAP and IFRS book values and associated net income. Thirdly, it examines the effect of the size of firms on the value relevance of book values and net income. The research is based on accounting information of UK companies listed on the London Stock Exchange FTSE 350 2007-2011.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Callao, S., Jarne, J. and Lainez, J. (2007) ‘Adoption of IFRS in Spain: Effect on the comparability and relevance of financial reporting', Journal of International Accounting, Auditing and Taxation, Vol.16, pp.148-178.
  • Chan, K.C. and Seow, G.C. (1996) ‘The association between stock returns and foreign GAAP earnings versus earnings adjusted to US GAAP', Journal of Accounting and Economics, Vol. 21 (February), pp. 139-158.
  • Christensen, H.B, Lee, E. and Walker, M. (2007) ‘Cross-sectional variation in the economic consequences of international accounting harmonization: The case of mandatory IFRS adoption in the UK', The International Journal of Accounting, Vol. 42, pp.341-379.

Example accounting dissertation topic 8:

Methods in international accounting: A comparison

This dissertation first addresses the way in which accounting practices can be influence by politics (both country specific and globally) and thereafter looks at the importance of the IFRS.  Having done so it questions why differences in accounting practices persist and does so through a range of country specific case studies. These case studies are then contextualised globally with reference to associated issues including share ownership patterns and the globalisation of stock options. Given the recent financial crash this is an area in which there is a growing body of literature being published.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Ashbaugh, H. and Pincus, M. (2001) ‘Domestic accounting standards, international accounting standards, and the predictability of earnings', Journal of Accounting Research, Vol. 39(3), pp. 417-434.
  • Nobes, C. and Parker, R. (2008) Comparative international accounting, (10th edn). Harlow: Pearson Education.

Example accounting dissertation topic 9:

Non-profit accounting: Financial reporting requirements - A review

The ‘Big Society', as espoused by David Cameron, brought into question the greater role that charities and other not-for-profit organisations can play in the larger community in which we all live. This dissertation looks at the unique nature of organisations that do not have commercial owners and must therefore rely on a variety of funds and, having done so, outlines the nature in which the accounting requriments placed upon such organisations are different to those of ‘for-profit' firms. This is a dissertation topic that would be particularly suited to a joint-studies student for it also brings in aspects of community building and governance. This is an area of academia in which the literature is specialised and accordingly, primary research in the area would allow the research to make a very valuable contribution to existing knowledge.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Freeman, R. and Shoulders, C. (2002) Governmental and non-profit accounting: Theory and practice (7th edn). Paris: Lavoisier.
  • Gray, R. (2008) ‘Social and environmental accounting and reporting: From ridicule to revolution? From hope to hubris? - A personal review of the field', Issues in Social and Environmental Accounting, Vol. 2, pp. 1-12.
  • Raynaud, P. (1998) ‘Coming together. A review of contemporary approaches to social accounting, auditing and reporting in non-profit organisations', Journal of Business Ethics, Vol. 17(13), pp. 1471-1479.

Example accounting dissertation topic 10:

Who says the company is solid?: An examination of the role of auditors since the global crisis

Anecdotal public opinion suggests that, with regard to a number of firms that have failed in the recent and on-going financial crisis auditors gave them clean bills of health immediately before they collapsed. In delivering such erroneous assessments, auditors were nevertheless paid huge fees and not required thereafter to pay them back to compensate either creditors or those who had lost their jobs. This dissertation uses a number of case studies from the high street to review the reports of auditors and the subsequent realities of the firms' health. It seeks, through interviews and a review of commentary to ask how and why auditors consistently get assessments wrong and proffers a range of suggestions as to how the rules governing the profession could be tightened to minimise such erroneous reporting in the future.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Humphrey, C., Kausar, A., Loft, A. and Woods, M. (2011) ‘Regulating audit beyond the crisis: A critical discussion of the EU Green Paper', European Accounting Review, Vol. 20(3), pp. 431-457.
  • Pinnuck, M. (2012) ‘A review of the role of financial reporting in the global financial crisis', Australian Accounting Review, Vol. 22(1), pp. 1-14.
  • Sikka, P. (2009) ‘Financial crisis and the silence of the auditors', Accounting, Organizations and Society, Vol. 34(6-7), pp. 868-873.

Example accounting dissertation topic 11:

A critique of credit rating agencies and their role in the financial crisis with specific reference to 2007-2009

Starting with the subprime mortgage debacle, credit rating agencies are perceived by many scholars as having valued the American real estate market too highly in the period immediately prior to 2007. This in turn, it is suggested, was one of the primary causes of the ensuing financial crisis that has now overtaken the global financial world. Using government reports, Senate hearing minutes, existing academic literature and interviews, this dissertation seeks firstly to evaluate the extent to which it is fair to blame the credit rating agencies for the initial financial scenario that led to the financial crisis. Thereafter it seeks to answer whether or not it is still appropriate to blame them for the nature of the global financial crisis as it exists today.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO) (2008) The role of credit rating agencies in structured finance markets, Final report. IOSCO Technical Committee. Madrid, Spain.
  • Issing Committee (2008) New Financial Order: Recommendations by the Issing Committee. Frankfurt: Center for Financial Studies. Available at: http://www.ifkcfs.de/fileadmin/downloads/publications/white_paper/White_Paper_No_1_Final.pdf [accessed 26 May 2012).
  • Kotecha, M., Weinberger, R., and Ryan, S. (2011) ‘The future of structured finance ratings after the financial crisis', The Journal of Structured Finance, Winter 2011, pp. 67-74.

Example accounting dissertation topic 12:

The options for growth in privately issued mortgage-backed securities

Mortgage-backed securities have been a feature of the financial market place for more than forty years. This study examines the future of privately issued mortgage-backed securities in the wake of the global financial crisis. It does so by conducting extensive secondary research through a comprehensive literature review. Further, it undertakes one-on-one interviews with more than ten leading figures in the industry, and analyses the future according to their perceptions and predictions. Finally, it warns of the risks for this sector of the market, and considers the realistic options for the future.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Ball, M. and Lizieri, C. (1998) Economics of commercial property markets, London: Routledge.
  • Blackstone's Guide to the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000, (2000) London: Blackstone Press.
  • Brown, G. and Matysiak, G.A. (2000) Real estate investment: A capital market approach. London: Prentice Hall/ Financial Times.

Example accounting dissertation topic 13:

A review as to how accounting ethics and the role they play in the decision making process are affected by environmental and cultural issues: A comparative international study

Using Norway, Denmark and Sweden, this comparative study analyses the extent to which there has been an increasing convergence in terms of the way in which decision-makers in the three countries approach ethical decision-making. Grounded in the academic approach advanced by Fok et al. (2005), this study questions whether the analysis that he proffered with relation to China, the UDSA and Jamaica can be applied to the business and accounting ethical issues within Scandinavia.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Fok, L.Y, Hartman, S.J. and Kwong, K. (2005) ‘A study of differences in business ethical values in Mainland China, the U.S. and Jamaica', Review of Business, Vol. 26(1), pp. 21-26.
  • Ho, Y.H. and Lin, C.Y. (2011) ‘Ethical decision making of accounting students: A cross-cultural comparative study', International Journal of Business Governance and Ethics, Vol. 6(3), pp. 294-309.

Example accounting dissertation topic 14:

An analysis of the customer satisfaction within the UK banking sector - with particular regard to online banking: 2009-2012

In 2010 there were more than 55 million UK households that chose to use internet banking. This is a trend of usage that is increasing. At the same time, consumer confidence in banking as a sector is at an all-time low and recent suggestions to withdraw free banking from the sector within the UK has done little to dispel displeasure. Using a range of primary data collection techniques this dissertation combined primary and secondary research to provide an up to date analysis of consumers' expectations of the services provided by their banks on-line as well as an evaluation of the present and future intentions of the banks themselves to further improve provision.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Herington, C. and Weaven, S. (2009) ‘E-retailing by banks: e-service quality and its importance to customer satisfaction', European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 43(9/10), pp.1220-1231.
  • Singer, D.D., Baradwaj, B.G, Flaherty, S. and Rugemer, F. (2012) ‘The frequency and intensity of experience in online banking use', Journal of Internet Banking and Commerce, Vol. 17(1), pp. 1-22.

Example accounting dissertation topic 15:

The future of second generation family-owned businesses: A comparative case study in governance

Traditionally, family-owned businesses are a mainstay of the commercial sector. This reality is changing, however, with changes wrought by globalisation and the spread of multi-national corporations. Another threat to the family-owned business includes the changing perceptions of younger generations with regard to honouring the wishes of their elders in taking over the family business. Although this phenomenon created waves in the business community in the West some time ago, it is only more recently that the waves of change have reached countries such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Pakistan. This study examines several businesses in depth and analyses the future landscape for the family-owned business, with particular emphasis on governance.

Suggested initial topic reading:

  • Hartman, E. A., Schierstedt, S. and Gudmundson, D. (2011) ‘Family business governance structures : Incidence and effects', Electronic Journal of Family Business Studies, Vol. 5(1-2), pp. 126-139.
  • Lussier, R.N. and Sonfield, M.C. (2010) ‘A six-country study of first-, second- and third-generation family businesses', International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour & Research, Vol. 16(5), pp. 414-436.
  • Marshall, J.P. (2011) The impact of business owners' conflict management and leadership styles on succession planning in family-owned businesses. Master's thesis, Texas Tech. Available at: http://thinktech.lib.ttu.edu/ttu-ir/handle/2346/13812 [accessed 26 May 2012].

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