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A. Gary Anderson
Graduate School of Management

Two New Accounting Professors See Behavior By the Numbers

UCR welcomes two new faculty members who bring a wide range of expertise in accounting, from how psychological traits influence fraud to the behavioral economics of marathon runners.

Among the new faculty members to join UCR’s School of Business are Assistant Professor of Accounting Eric Allen and Assistant Professor of Teaching in Accounting Naman Kiran Desai, already a familiar presence as a School of Business lecturer.

Allen’s research interests include the effect of statutory requirements on firm income tax planning and disclosures; efficiency of firms’ tax planning decisions; and financial statement analysis.

“On a very fundamental level,” he says, “I’m curious about why people and organizations do things that don’t seem consistent with what you would expect from theory, or the popular perception of how things work.”

He also has studied marathon running through an economics lens. One study he co-authored compared the extra effort runners exhibit at the finish line to the tendency of companies to report earnings just above zero rather than just below – even when the difference between a very small loss and a very small profit is negligible.

“I am a runner and an accounting researcher, so writing about marathon running lets me justify spending way too much money on race fees and shoes,” he says. “But really, the beauty of investigating marathon runners is that it allows us to study individual decisions at a level of detail that you can’t really get when just looking at more traditional data sets.”

At UCR, he is teaching a course in Individual Income Taxation. “The business school has been growing rapidly, and I’m really looking forward to being part of that development,” says Allen, who most recently was an assistant professor of accounting at University of Southern California, where he taught introduction to financial accounting and, as a graduate student instructor, federal income tax accounting.

Allen earned his doctorate and master’s degrees in business administration from University of California at Berkeley after working professionally as a tax accountant, business manager and senior auditor. His undergraduate degree in economics and business administration is from the University of Redlands.

Desai has published widely on his research interests, including auditing and corporate governance. Topics have included how internal audit design influences the perceptions of external auditors; the determinants of external audit fees; and the impact of auditor expertise and shareholder dissent on financial reporting processes. He also recently published examinations of how psychological traits influence the propensity to act opportunistically or commit fraud.

Desai says he is drawn to the field because accounting reveals so much about a company – far beyond profits and losses.

“My training and experience in the field of accounting allow me to see things which an untrained individual might not see,” he says. “As an accounting professor, I constantly strive to make my students see beyond the numbers.”

Having earned the international designation of chartered accountant (equivalent in the United States to a CPA), Desai brings professional experience to the classroom. Previously, his courses included cost accounting for business decisions; fraud risk and corporate governance; introduction to behavioral research in accounting and finance; introduction to auditing research; and advanced auditing and forensic accounting.

Desai earned his doctorate in accounting at Florida State University, where he served as a lecturer before taking faculty roles at University of Central Florida; the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad; and St. Mary’s College, California. He has a master’s degree in accountancy from the University of Alabama and a Bachelor of Commerce degree from Gujarat University, Ahmedabad.