Formal versus informal mentoring of MAS professionals

Philip H. Siegel, Todd Schultz, Sharon Landy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


CPA firms have consistently experienced high turnover and poor performance amongst their management advisory and information systems professionals. As Keller (2008) suggests, mentoring programs are a mechanism to help attract and maintain good employees. The extant accounting literature well documents the benefits of mentoring such as enhanced communication, greater organizational commitment, higher professional performance and reduced personnel turnover (Scandura & Viator, 1994; Siegel & Reintein, 2001; Siegel et al., 1997). In light of their potential benefits, CPA firms have begun to develop formal mentoring programs for accounting specialists to ensure that the advantages of mentoring are maintained rather than relying on happenstance (Siegel et al., 1997). The extant literature also addresses the benefits and shortcomings of formal mentoring programs for both auditing and tax professionals. (Viator, 2001; Siegel, et al., 1997; Herbohn, 2004). However, to date, no research addresses formal mentoring relative to management advisory services (MAS) professionals employed by CPA firms. MAS professionals work milieu is generally less structured than other professionals employed by CPA firms. In addition, they have greater operating autonomy than is usually the case in public accounting. Thus the purpose of this study is to compare the effects of formal and informal mentoring program effects on MAS professionals working at international public accounting firms. To evaluate the different mentoring programs, the study examines the mentoring processes within the tax departments of two international CPA firms that employ both formal and informal mentoring programs. The results indicate no significant differences between formal and informal programs on MAS professionals' career development. However, the statistical analysis did show a significant difference in the perceived influence of the programs at two professional levels on personal development that appears at the middle range of the programs. The results suggest that the informal mentoring approach leads to stronger personal relationships but does not extend to higher professional firm levels. Neither formal nor informal programs appear to have a significant influence to staff level professionals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5-12
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Applied Business Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2011


  • CPA firms
  • Management Consultants
  • Mentoring

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management


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