International Perspective: Katz Down Under

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The occasional travel of faculty for academic conferences, research seminars, and temporary appointments is intended to facilitate the creation of new knowledge. These excursions expand professional networks and stimulate ideas.

By pure coincidence, two Katz accounting faculty members recently made Australia— located well over 10,000 miles from Pittsburgh and a half-a-day's time difference — a destination in 2016 and 2017 for short-term faculty residencies. Prof. Vicky Hoffman was a visiting faculty in residence at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Sydney and Prof. Don Moser was a visiting faculty scholar at the University of Melbourne.

Don Moser"It's a long, arduous flight to Melbourne," says Moser, professor of business administration and Dean's Excellence Faculty Fellow in Accounting, "but it's worth it. I love the university and the opportunity to interact with other scholars."

During his time in Melbourne, Moser taught three, three-hour sessions on experimental research in accounting to the University of Melbourne doctoral students. He also presented workshops to faculty and doctoral students on two research papers: “Investment Professionals’ Use of Corporate Social Responsibility Disclosures” and “Measurement-Induced Pay Dispersion and Employee Effort.”

Moser was invited to the University of Melbourne by Professor Margaret Abernethy, and has already been invited to come back again next year.

Vicky HoffmanHoffman, who is a professor of business administration and James H. Rossell Endowed Faculty Fellow, also had a productive experience at UNSW. She met with faculty and PhD students to discuss and provide feedback on their experimental research projects and proposals. Hoffman also presented a working paper, "Do Effort Differences Between Bonus and Penalty Contracts Persist in Labor Markets?," to the school’s faculty and PhD students.

The paper is a collaboration with Moser and George C. Gonzalez (Katz PhD ’12), assistant professor, Faculty of Management, University of Lethbridge in Calgary, Canada.

The paper examined the implications of contract type on worker performance. The study tests predictions through an experiment using two labor markets, one in which employers chose to offer a bonus contract or an economically equivalent penalty contract, and another in which employers couldn’t choose which type of contract to offer. The co-authors found that workers provide the most effort when employers can choose which contract to offer and when workers can choose which contract to work under. In that scenario, there is no longer any difference in the worker’s effort between bonus or penalty contracts.

Hoffman accepted the invitation to UNSW from Ken Trotman, a UNSW faculty member whom she first met at the University of Michigan many years ago. “Ken and I stayed in touch, and he has asked me to visit UNSW for several years,” says Hoffman. “In 2016, I decided to accept the offer to serve as a visiting faculty in residence. I thought it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but then he invited me to come back in 2017.”

 “My time at UNSW was incredibly busy and very productive,” Hoffman says. “I’m grateful to Ken and the other faculty at UNSW for hosting me and giving me the chance to share research ideas.”

Coincidentally, several of Hoffman’s UNSW colleagues will be in Pittsburgh later this year for the 2017 Accounting, Behavior and Organizations Research Conference at the Westin Convention Center. The Conference will provide more opportunities to share ideas and build new connections across the globe.

Such is the full circle of the travel that strengthens the academic community.