This distinguished accounting scholar was born in Sydney, Australia, in 1944. His father managed a Red Cross farm that supplied its hospitals with produce. His mother helped make ends meet by selling flowers, dressmaking, and taking in laundry. Although he set out on a vocational track following grade school, his test scores led him to transfer to the academic track and become the first person in his family to complete high school.
Responding to an interest in accounting kindled during his brief experience on the vocational track, he planned to pursue an accounting career following graduation. However, a company-funded scholarship led him to enroll at the University of New South Wales. The scholarship required him to work in accounting and administrative functions during university breaks. High scores on his first-year exams resulted in an invitation from W. J. McK. (“Bill”) Stewart to join the honors program in accounting, which emphasized accounting theory. Stewart also encouraged him to go to the United States for graduate study and arranged for him to serve during his senior year as a part-time Tutor in Accounting, a position that became full-time for one year following graduation. One of his teaching assistants at New South Wales was Philip Brown, who encouraged him to enroll at Chicago and subsequently introduced him to empirical research. Their research partnership produced a total of ten papers over fourteen years.
He graduated from the University of New South Wales in 1965 with a Bachelor in Commerce, earning First Class Honors and the University Medal. In 1966, he was named a Fulbright Scholar and awarded a Graduate School of Business Fellowship at the University of Chicago where he commenced his graduate studies. In the next year, he was awarded a Ford Foundation Fellowship and began working toward his doctoral degree and teaching courses in accounting and finance at Loyola University in 1968 and the University of Chicago, where he joined the faculty for the first time in 1969-72. He earned the MBA degree in 1968 and a PhD in Economics in 1972.
In 1972, he returned to Australia as Professor of Accounting and Finance at the University of Queensland. In 1976, he was appointed Foundation Professor at the Australia Graduate School of Management and rejoined Philip Brown, his former teacher and colleague and the founding dean of the School. Here he and Professor Brown conducted some of the first work on the Australian stock market. In 1986, he returned to the United States as Wesray Professor of Business Administration at the University of Rochester. In 2000, he returned to the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business as the Sidney Davidson Professor of Accounting.
His empirical studies place him in the top tier of accounting’s most respected and productive researchers. These studies address market economy institutions, financial reporting and disclosure, earnings and stock prices, financial information analysis, international accounting and market efficiency. During his career, he has authored or co-authored four books, over 55 articles in academic journals, over 25 articles in professional journals and published proceedings, 18 instructional cases, and 5 commissioned reports for government agencies and business organizations. His research with Philip Brown, “An Empirical Evaluation of Accounting Income Numbers,” published in the Journal of Accounting Research has been as widely cited as any other accounting study since its publication in 1968; it revolutionized understanding of the impact of corporate disclosure on share prices and laid a foundation for much subsequent development of accounting research. The 1968 paper received the American Accounting Association’s inaugural award for Seminal Contributions to the Accounting Literature in 1986. The contributions of two additional papers have been widely recognized. The first of these, “Anomalies in Relationships between Securities’ Yields and Yield-surrogates,” published in the Journal of Financial Economics in 1978, was the first academic acknowledgement of systematic anomalies in the theory of efficient markets. The second, “The Effect of International Institutional Factors on Properties of Accounting Earnings,” co-authored with S. P. Kothari and Ashok Robin and published in the Journal of Accounting and Economics in 2000, played an important role in bringing international accounting into the research mainstrea
His many honors and awards include honorary doctorates from Helsinki School of Economics, Katholieke University Leuven, the University of Queensland, and the University of London. He is a Professor in the European Institute for Advanced Studies in Management. He has held visiting professorships at the University of Chicago (1976 and 1985), London Business School (1996-2002), and Keio University in Tokyo (1990) and has delivered invited lectures at over forty universities and professional meetings.
He is a master teacher of courses in financial accounting, international financial reporting, financial statement analysis, investments, and corporate finance. He has authored many instruction cases and his teaching has won numerous awards at the University of Rochester and the University of Chicago, including the Hillel J. Einhorn Excellence in Teaching Award. In 1999, he was appointed Distinguished International Lecturer by the American Accounting Association and he received the Association’s Outstanding Accounting Educator Award in 2003.
He has served as an editor of the Journal of Accounting Research for the past nine years. He also served for fourteen years as an editor of the Journal of Accounting and Economics prior to returning to Chicago. He was founding editor of the Australian Journal of Management and currently serves as associate editor of the Journal of Contemporary Accounting and Economics. His extensive record of editorial service also includes associate editor and editorial board positions with the Journal of Banking and Finance, the Journal of Business Finance and Accounting, Global Management Research, and the Accounting Research Network.
He is a member of the Board of Trustees of Harbor Funds and chairs its audit committee. He serves on the FASB’s Financial Accounting Standard Advisory Council, the Financial Reporting Advisory Group of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, the Shadow Financial Regulation Committee sponsored by the American Enterprise Institute, and the Advisory Board for The Center for Accounting Research and Education at the University of Notre Dame. In addition, his record of professional service includes committee and program contributions to many academic and professional organizations including the American Accounting Association, the American Institute of CPAs, the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, the European Accounting Association, the European Finance Association, the European Institute for Advanced Studies in Management and the British Accounting Association.
He and his wife, Janice, live in Chicago. She holds a doctorate from the University of Rochester and teaches at DePaul University; they were married in 1970 and have two children. He is the eighty-fifth member of the Accounting Hall of Fame, Raymond John Ball.