fsabac

Florin Sabac, PhD Accounting, PhD Mathematics, MSc, BSc Mathematics

Professor

Alberta School of Business

Accounting, Operations and Information Systems

Research

Research Interests

My current research addresses the following fundamental question: How does the institutional setting in which accounting performance information is used affect its value?

This is an important topic because little is known—beyond the classic results of Blackwell, Holmstrom, and Kim—about ranking information systems in agencies with particular features relevant to accounting. I have written or co-authored several papers on this topic. Each paper examines the value of performance measures in a particular agency setting, with either explicit or implicit contracts. First, “Ranking Performance Measures in Multi-Task Agencies,” co-authored with Peter Christensen and Joyce Tian, under review (third round) at The Accounting Review, examines the problem of ranking information systems in multi-task agency settings. Second, “Ranking Performance Measures when Contracts are Renegotiated,” presented at the CMU Accounting Mini Conference 2009, examines the same problem in a multi-period agency, with particular emphasis on identifying how contract renegotiation restricts the use of performance information. Third, the two papers co-authored with Peter Christensen and Hans Frimor, “Earnings Quality and Earnings Management” and “The Trouble with Career Concerns and Short-term Contracts,” examine the impact of non-contractible information on the use of contractible performance measures.

Canada Research Chair in Accounting Theory


Teaching

Teaching Responsibilities

My undergraduate teaching has been in managerial accounting, both the general introductory course, Acctg 322, and the intermediate cost accounting course, Acctg 424. In both these courses I emphasize the decision context and how that determines the value of a particular accounting method (for example Activity-Based Costing, or cost allocation). To give students a broader perspective on the subject, I point out recent research findings whenever relevant to the topic at hand (for example, much has been done on performance evaluation in dynamic settings leading to interesting results on amortization and investment decisions). I also provide the students with supplementary readings, both from the realm of academic research and from more practitioner-oriented journals, with the aim to expand their horizons and emphasize the value of context and judgment above the necessary—but insufficient—learning of technical rules. To make sure the students do get this message, my exams expand the “number crunching” questions with discussions of “why” and “what if” scenarios.

The two different accounting theory courses I taught in the PhD program under the Acctg 732 designation have been designed to introduce the students to an information economics perspective on the production and use of accounting information in both financial markets and within organizations. The first course was designed as an introduction to financial economics with emphasis on accounting (for example, the Feltham-Ohlson model of mapping accounting information into stock prices). The second course was designed as an introduction to agency theory with emphasis on accounting. In this second course, I have also discussed some of my current research at the time, on the way the nature of the performance information systems impacts the value of the performance measures and the observable equilibrium outcomes in multi-period agencies (this research was published in JAE in 2003, 2005, 2008, and in Management Science in 2007).