Doctoral Seminars by

James L. Chan
Professor Emeritus of Accounting
University of Illinois at Chicago, U.S.A.
Visiting Professor of Accounting
University of Cagliari, Italy

Academic Year 2008


Participants. This seminar series is intended primarily for doctoral students and young academics who are interested in doing qualitative and policy-oriented government accounting research in a national or international context. Practitioners involved in setting standards and responding to proposed standards may also find the topics of interest. Most of the materials should also be accessible to students at the master’s level. Since no technical accounting knowledge is required, the seminar can also be appropriate and useful to academics and practitioners in public budgeting, public administration/management and public policy analysis.

Objective and Subject Areas.
The seminar series is designed to provide the participants a systematic and critical exposure to three areas in government accounting:

  • Comparative international government accounting research (CIGAR) – theoretical and methodological issues
  • American government accounting – institutional structure for standard setting, concepts, principles and standards (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles or GAAP)
  • International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS) – substantive and institutional issues.

The seminar series at the University of Cagliari will consists of six sessions, and will be preceded by an orientation session and followed by a debate contest. (Click for detailed agenda)

  • Week of May 5 *
  • Seminar 1, May 21
    Topic: CIGAR: Objectives, Substantive and Methodological Issues
  • Seminar 2, May 22
    Topic: American Government Accounting: Environment, History, Theory
  • Seminar 3, May 28
    Topic: American Govt. Accounting: Institutions, Concepts and Standards
  • Seminar 4, May 29
    Topic: Making Sense of American Government Financial Statements
  • Seminar 5, June 11
    Topic: IPSAS: Conceptual and Institutional issues
  • Seminar 6, June 12
    Topic: Issue for CIGAR: Would/should the United States adopt IPSAS?
  • Mid-July * #
    Debate: Italy should / should not adopt IPSAS / American GAAP

* date to be decided. # Four teams will be formed on the basis of volunteering or assignment.

Most readings are available in the Publications section of Unless otherwise noted, they are written by Prof. Chan. Most “real life” illustrations can also be found through the links provided at the above website. If you are unsure or need further information, please do not hesitate to ask Professor Chan.

Each seminar will last three hours. In the first two hours, Professor Chan will introduce the topic and present a lecture based primarily on his research and publications. After a break, there will be question-and-answer session, along with a discussion to relate the topic to the Italian context and to the participants’ academic or professional interests.

Since it is both infeasible and undesirable to regurgitate the ideas already in the background papers, participants are required to have read the papers in advance. The relative importance of the readings is indicated by the number of “stars”, with *** being the most important. The major topics covered by a seminar are framed as a list of issues to be addressed in order to make the reading exercise more purposeful and to serve as the basis of discussion. The “star” system is again used to indicate the relative importance of the issues and the amount of time to be allocated. It is anticipated that the readings for each session will usually take three to four hours for someone with good English reading comprehension. The Internet exercises can be fun and informative, although they are not as important as the readings.

Students who take the seminar for academic credit will receive a grade based on:

  • A case study describing Italian government accounting using the guidelines discussed in the first session. The paper should be about 10 double-spaced pages and is due by July 15, 2008.
  • A position paper in support of whatever stance you take on the question of whether Italy should adopt IPSAS or (the substance of) American GAAP. The paper should be about five double-spaced pages and is due on the date of the debate.