Mosbah, Abdulaziz Y. S. (2018) The required knowledge and skills from Libyan university accounting education and barriers to development: A mixed methods study using an institutional theory lens. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

The business environment worldwide has witnessed remarkable changes, which require education to respond. However, accounting bodies and organisations have become concerned about the expansion of the gap between what is being taught in accounting education programmes (AEPs) and what are the requirements of the labour market. Much of this debate has focused on developed countries, but the same issues are likely to apply, but perhapsin different form, in emerging economies too.

Using Libya as an example of an emerging economy, this research examines professionals’, practitioners’ and educators’ perceptions regarding three things: the required knowledge and skills; the gap that exists in both university accounting students and employees; and the institutional influences and barriers that may affect the development of university AEPs. Institutional theory was adopted as a lens to help guide and explain the findings. In order to fulfil the research objectives, a mixed method exploratory study design was used. This design included two phases: twelve Viber and Skype interviews were conducted, then 262 valid online questionnaire responses were collected.

Thematic analysis of the interview transcripts was conducted, then the questionnaire responses were analysed, mainly using Welch’s ANOVA. The emerged themes showed that what is considered important for AEPs can be classified into three areas: technical knowledge (e.g. financial accounting, auditing, and awareness of ethical issues in accounting and auditing); generic skills such as teamwork, reading with understanding, and analysis skills; and IT skills (e.g. electronic accounting systems and World Wide Web). Most stakeholders were not satisfied with the development level that students exhibited in important competencies. The failures of Libyan AEPs were attributed to teaching and faculty member-related issues, student-related issues, curricula-related issues, and collaboration-related issues.

Different institutional influences shape and affect AEPs. Coercive isomorphic pressures stem from the dependency of the universities upon government funding, and the previous regime’s attempts to politicize education. Mimetic isomorphic influences result from different channels, including curricula, teaching methods experience brought by abroad-educated academics, and the good relationship between Libya and the previous colonizer.

The study contributes to a knowledge gap in the accounting education literature from an emerging economy context, where educators consider the gap between the required skills and development level in their students even larger than that perceived by professionals and practitioners. Using institutional theory as a lens to answer the research questions provides evidence of the influences that accounting educators in Libya face.

As well as following up this project in other emerging economies, further research should consider the voices of students and recent graduates as key stakeholders.

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