June 19, 2019

Haskayne's first Canada Research Chair explores the future of accounting and finance in the knowledge economy

Anup Srivastava researches how to respond to changing public corporations

Financial reporting informs countless decisions for organizations and investors. Decisions about loans, whether to buy or sell shares and how to reward performance. But Haskayne’s Dr. Anup Srivastava, PhD, says those practices are increasingly flawed.

“Current financial statements are becoming almost useless for investment valuation and executive compensation,” asserts Srivastava, whose research is highlighting how accounting principles of the past are not equipped to provide the right information about the companies of the future.

Many of today’s most valuable companies — Facebook, Microsoft and Alphabet Inc.— compete with innovation and ideas instead of physical infrastructure and assets. These knowledge-based companies are fast replacing those that focus exclusively on factories and infrastructure.

“I am looking at the future of accounting and finance,” says Srivastava. “I want to contribute to a new world of disclosures that are more reflective of value creation for firms competing with intangibles and more meaningful to investors.”

Srivastava will explore corporate governance practices and the changing nature of public corporations as the Canada Research Chair in Accounting, Decision-Making and Capital Markets, a first for the Haskayne School of Business. “My research will inform the decisions of multiple stakeholders — directors, managers, regulators, accountants, policy-makers and investors — in the new knowledge economy.”

Having worked in the c-suite before joining academia, Srivastava brings a unique perspective to his research. In his industry roles, he directly saw and felt the contrast between infrastructure-intense operations and a firm based in the knowledge economy. In India, he was vice-president of corporate strategy for a multibillion dollar firm making chemicals, steel, oil, cement and copper.

He started working for a software startup when he came to the U.S. and noticed a world of difference. Much of the management philosophy he knew, the top-down hierarchical decisions, information contained in financial statements, managerial compensation, and the role of investors, did not fit well in this knowledge firm. Now he is analyzing this mismatch, quantifying the impacts and hoping to influence change.

“An important dimension of my research agenda is linking to the business community,” says Srivastava. And he is excited about making those connections in Calgary. “I believe that Calgary will undergo dramatic transformation as it shifts its reliance from oil to knowledge and ideas. I can make meaningful contributions to business leaders in this journey.”

He intends to make an impact in both industry and academia. He has been published in top academic journals as well as practitioner journals, read by business executives, in the last five years. He has been interviewed by prominent media outlets. Leading business schools around the world are using his Harvard Business Review articles as teaching materials. He is currently deputy editor-in-chief of Management and Business Review, a new journal focused on bridging management practice, education and research.

“Anup is looking at big ideas, the kinds of ideas that can radically change our understanding of accounting and investing,” says Jim Dewald, dean, Haskayne School of Business. “His work promises to have deep impacts to auditors, CFOs, boards of directors and ultimately, investors. We are fortunate to have a Canada Research Chair at Haskayne whose research can impact the future of business."