This blog post by Barry Dahl, Lake Superior College's former vice president of technology and Lake Superior Connect e-Campus, appeared a few months back during state budget talks, but I thought now was a good time to resurrect it.
In the post, Dahl, who taught accounting at the University of Minnesota - Duluth from 1987 to 1993, questions the need for the current number of research professors in accounting (and possibly other fields):
It was my opinion then, and it is still my opinion now, that almost no one who works in the accounting industry gives a rat’s behind about the published research in the academic accounting journals. Most of it is completely irrelevant or totally incoherent to the people who actually work in the accounting profession (with a few exceptions, of course).
Figuring that research professors cost tens of thousands of dollars more than teaching professors, in 1990 he "conservatively calculated" the extra cost of academic research in accounting at more than $1 million.
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Maybe the state of Minnesota ... should pay the best 2 or 3 researchers in accounting to continue to produce this kind of product. I can’t imagine that there is a real need in society for any more than that. If every state did that, we would have 100-150 accounting researchers at public institutions of higher learning across the U.S. Then you can add in the researchers who work in the accounting field (non-academicians) and those who are employed by the private universities (they can do what they want with their money) and you still have one hell of a lot of accounting researchers out there.
On second thought, 100-150 academic researchers in accounting still sounds like too many to me.
To dissuade me from this argument, I will need someone to convince me that this very large use of public funding has a significant payoff for society as a whole, and that we would be better off with these millions of dollars be spent elsewhere.
So far, it doesn't look like anyone has offered up any counterarguments.