SYNOPSIS

Finding qualified accounting staff has consistently been a top issue facing CPA firms. However, little is known about the factors that influence accountants' decisions to seek careers with different types of firms. In our paper, we use Ajzen's (1991) theory of planned behavior to examine the reasons why some accountants seek careers at Big 4 firms, while other accountants seek careers at non-Big 4 firms. We survey accounting students and find that attitudes, subjective norms, and perceived behavioral control each influence firm-choice decisions. To provide additional insight into our results, we survey accounting professionals from Big 4 and non-Big 4 accounting firms. We find that, overall, students' perceptions, while more limited, are similar to those of accounting professionals. Further, we find that accounting professionals provide a number of insightful comments that offer several important implications for accounting firms. Finally, we assess whether accounting professionals perceive that certain types of accounting students are more likely to succeed at Big 4 versus non-Big 4 firms, and whether recruiting efforts are consistent with these perceptions.

Data Availability: Data are available upon request.

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