Dr. Khim Kelly - Teaching Managerial Accounting and Management Controls

Published on: November 07, 2021

Dr. Khim Kelly is the KPMG Professor of Accounting at the Kenneth G. Dixon School of Accounting, University of Central Florida. Dr. Kelly received her Ph.D. from the University of Southern California and previously held faculty positions at the University of Waterloo, Canada, and Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.

She teaches courses in financial accounting (primarily financial reporting and disclosures to investors and creditors external to organizations) and managerial accounting (primarily the reporting of information within an organization to support decision-making). Her research examines the design of performance measurement, evaluation and compensation practices in organizations, and how those performance management practices impact employee behavior and performance. She is interested in how individuals and groups behave and make decisions when operating under different organizational controls. For example, her research has investigated how formal and informal corporate governance mechanisms (e.g., regulatory requirements, audit procedures, internal controls, compensation structures, decision-making structures, organization culture and identity) affect the behaviors of various organizational stakeholders (e.g., managers, auditors and investors).

Dr. Kelly’s research has received multiple Best Paper Awards and has been published in top accounting journals, including the American Accounting Association’s *The Accounting Review*, Oxford University’s *Accounting, Organizations and Society*, and the Canadian Academic Accounting Association’s *Contemporary Accounting Research*. She has been invited to present her research at numerous conferences and universities in the U.S. and internationally. Dr. Kelly is currently an editor at *Contemporary Accounting Research*, and also serves on the editorial boards of *Journal of Management Accounting Research* and *Management Accounting Research*.

Please tell us a bit about who you are and what you do.

My name is Khim Kelly. I am the KPMG Professor of Accounting at the University of Central Florida, where I teach primarily managerial accounting and management controls.

I also conduct research on performance measurement and evaluation, and incentives and compensation systems; and examine how these impact employees’ judgments and behaviors.

Why did you decide to specialize in Accounting?

I was in high school in Singapore and deciding between Pharmacology, Accounting, and Economics. In the end, due to financial constraints, I very practically chose Accounting because it was the fastest route to a professionally recognized degree (it’s a three-year degree program in Singapore) and I thought it provided the highest return of investment! It did turn out to be one of the best decisions I ever made!

What inspired you to become an educator?

My professors at my alma mater, Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. They were dedicated to the academic and personal success of their students. When I was invited to go back to teach a course as an adjunct instructor, I was hooked.

You are interested in how individuals and groups behave in different organizations. Do tell us more about your research.

Much of my research examines how information and the way we use information in organizations affect the judgments and behaviors of individuals and groups. For example, the performance measures we use and the manner in which we tie incentives to these performance measures will affect what decisions people will make individually and in groups, and also how well people learn on their job. For example, these decisions could be associated with how much effort people put into their work, where people direct or focus their effort, or whether to cooperate/compete with and help/hinder others at work.

Your research has received multiple Best Paper Awards. Which of the papers you worked on is your personal favorite and why?

A personal favorite of mine is “The interaction of perceived subjectivity and pay transparency on professional judgment in a profit pool setting: The case of large law firms”, published in The Accounting Review in 2020. It is fascinating being able to interview law partners about their perceptions of how profits are allocated amongst partners in their law firm, and trying to understand how their perceptions of the profit allocation system then affect how law partners interact with their clients and fellow partners. For example, an interesting insight from that research study is that what matters to many partners is not how much he or she is paid in absolute terms, but how much he or she is paid relative to other partners in the firm; and how relative pay can become a big part of the identity of being a law partner.

Tell us more about the Kenneth G. Dixon School of Accounting. Why is it a good place to study accounting?

Like my alma mater, the Dixon School has professors and instructors dedicated to the success of our students. While the curriculum is as rigorous and innovative as other top accounting programs around the country, our accounting classes are small and personal, and our professors and instructors care about our students as individuals.

Do you have any success stories from former students? We would love to hear them!

My former students have gone on to have very successful accounting (and non-accounting) careers post-graduation.

What is your best advice for someone who is considering studying accounting?

It is an incredibly rewarding career if you are willing to put in the hard work.

Is there anything specific you are working on right now?

My colleagues (Lisa Baudot and Ethan LaMothe) and I are working on a research project examining how employees in the United States are responding to remote working during the COVID-19 pandemic. This has been a project that we have been working on since July 2020 and we are excited to learn more about how employees’ perceptions of remote work has changed because of their experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Where can our readers discover more of your work or sign up for your programs?

The weblink to my work is

https://business.ucf.edu/person/khim-kelly/ and https://scholar.google.ca/citations?user=WtFikasAAAAJ&hl=en

The weblink to our accounting programs is as follows:

https://business.ucf.edu/departments-schools/kenneth-g-dixon-school-of-accounting/

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