Preparedness of accounting graduates in lean accounting in South Africa
Fonou Dombeu, Nyanine Chuele
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Lean accounting is an innovative management accounting strategy that is being implemented by organisations worldwide to achieve business objectives and maintain economy competitiveness. The current economic situation in South Africa requires organisations to adopt innovative solutions such as lean accounting. However, the literature shows that South African organisations have not yet embarked on lean accounting adoption. Furthermore, case studies in various countries have revealed that a shortage of employees with knowledge of lean principles is one of the main barriers to the adoption of lean accounting in organisations. So far, no study has been conducted on the capacity of South African human resources to adopt lean principles. Moreover, it is not known the extent to which accounting curricula at South African institutions of higher learning has been updated to include content that would prepare students to participate in lean accounting projects after graduation. This study investigated whether the prescribed textbooks at South African universities include sufficient lean content to prepare accounting graduates to participate in lean accounting projects. The study followed a qualitative approach based on document analysis. First, a literature review was conducted of published articles that focus on lean accounting. A content analysis of the articles was performed to select the relevant publications for the study. The content of the selected publications was analysed further to identify and record all the lean principles and methods, as well as the practical methodologies of lean strategy implementation. Secondly, lists of prescribed textbooks in use at accounting departments at several South African universities were collected and the content of these textbooks was analysed to identify all sections pertaining to aspects of lean. These sections were recorded for further analysis. Finally, the information obtained on lean concepts discussed in various sections of the collected accounting textbooks was matched to the definitions of lean concepts from the literature. The findings revealed that, out of the 14 existing lean principles identified in the literature, only three (21.4%) were discussed in the prescribed accounting textbooks. Likewise, out of the 10 existing lean methods identified in the literature, only five (50%) were discussed in the prescribed textbooks. Moreover, the data analysis indicated that the prescribed accounting textbooks at South African universities do not emphasise lean concepts. Lean concepts identified in prescribed textbooks are discussed in isolation and there are no complete sections or chapters dedicated to lean methods and/or principles. Further, none of the prescribed textbooks allocated a full chapter or section to the discussion of any aspect of lean. The main finding of the study was that prescribed textbooks at South African universities do not include sufficient lean content to prepare accounting graduates to successfully participate in lean projects after graduation.