Does the Holland model of occupational choice (HMOC) perpetuate the Beancounter-Bookkeeper (BB) stereotype of accountants?

Clement C. Chen, Keith T. Jones, Audrey N. Scarlata, Dan N. Stone

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


This article investigates the Holland model of occupational choice's (HMOC) development, influence, and validity in relation to its classification of bookkeepers, accountants, and business professionals. Study 1 reanalyzes published data and provides evidence that the Beancounter-Bookkeeper (BB) stereotype, which is promoted in the HMOC, is partially predictive of the personality characteristics of individuals who choose to enter professional accountancy. Study 2 investigates the influence of HMOC training, and exposure to accounting education, on perceptions of the personality type needed for accounting work; results indicate that: (1) HMOC training is associated with perceptions that accounting work requires a BB personality, and (2) the importance of investigative skills to accounting work increase with accounting education. Following this, we review evidence that suggests low validity in the HMOC's claims of greater job success and satisfaction among BB accountants. Finally, we consider three possible processes that may explain Holland and colleagues' conjoining of accountants with bookkeepers. Together, the analysis promotes skepticism regarding whether the HMOC's claim that professional accounting success demands a passive, compliant, subservient, i.e., BB, personality supports the public interest obligations of professional accountants.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)370-389
Number of pages20
JournalCritical Perspectives on Accounting
Issue number4-5
StatePublished - Jun 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Thanks to Professor Michel Magnan (Concordia University), workshop participants at the University of Kentucky and the University of South Carolina (especially Ted Rodgers and Scott Vandervelde), attendees of the AAA Accounting, Behavior and Organizations (ABO) Conference, and the editor and anonymous reviewers for comments on earlier drafts. Thanks also to Jacqueline Thompson and Candace Witherspoon for editing assistance and Milton Shen for exemplary help with the dataset and analysis. The first author gratefully acknowledges the financial support of the University of Michigan - Flint . The second author gratefully acknowledges the financial support of the Department of Accounting and Business Law at University of North Alabama . The third author gratefully acknowledges the financial support of East Carolina University . The third and fourth authors gratefully acknowledge the financial support of the Gatton College of Business , the Von Allmen School of Accountancy , and the University of Kentucky .


  • Accounting education
  • Accounting firms
  • Holland model
  • Public interest

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Accounting
  • Finance
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Information Systems and Management


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