Twenty years ago, the dean of deans of business schools, Sidney Davidson of The University of Chicago, was asked what he saw as a dean's most challenging leadership task. Without hesitation, he replied: “Maintaining balance—the appropriate balance between competing academic and professional interests” (Cheit, 1985, 53). The history of business education in the United States includes periods when the balance has been tilted strongly toward professional interests as well as periods when the balance has been tilted toward academic interests. Building connections between accounting research and practice is about maintaining the appropriate balance between professional and academic interests.

Before 1960, accounting and business programs emphasized educating practitioners.1 Many early programs were founded by members of economics departments who were interested in accounting and business practices and developed a strong vocational orientation. That orientation helped these programs achieve an identity, but it was difficult for them to...

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