EPIC Spotlight: Kristian Allee

Hanging over Kristian Allee’s desk is a dry erase board with a list of potential research projects he scrawled.

“I love this stuff,” he says, looking up at the board.

It was his love for research that first brought him to the Sam M. Walton College of Business. As an accounting professor with the University of Wisconsin-Madison, he made jaunts to the University of Arkansas for research and, on multiple occasions, to meet with doctoral students and give a presentation at the request of the accounting faculty. Allee soon became familiar with Devil’s Den State Park near West Fork and Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville. So, when he began working as a Walton associate accounting professor during the summer of 2016, he was already comfortable with his surroundings. His wife and five kids were sold as well.

Allee says “there’s a bazillion factors” as to why he chose to work at the University of Arkansas, ranging from his freedom to do research to the camaraderie of his co-workers, with whom he often shares lunch.

Yet accounting was an acquired interest. Allee, who grew up in Grand Junction, Colorado, thought he would be an entrepreneur because he liked the idea of working for himself. An inspiring professor at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, where Allee was an undergraduate, convinced him that the best way to learn about business was through accounting. Allee will pay it forward by enlightening undergraduates new to accounting by teaching Accounting Principles. He will also teach a graduate seminar in accounting research.

“I’m grateful,” he says of the opportunity to teach. “I’m hopeful I’ll have the same impact on my students.”

Allee’s research has been cited in the news media, including The Wall Street Journal, when he and a co-author found that private firms with audited financial statements were more likely to be approved for loans.

He was also the subject of a business story by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel regarding his research showing that private firms can reap higher profits than public ones, from avoiding costs of regulatory requirements to enjoying tax advantages and the freedom from having to disclose information that could be used against them by their competition.

His research has been published in the Journal of Accounting Research, The Accounting Review, Contemporary Accounting Research and Accounting, Organizations and Society.

Yet there’s another that always sparks conversation – the time he did a study titled, “The Effects of Free Agency on Major League Baseball Players’ and Clubs’ Performance.” As a graduate student at Indiana University, Allee was able to combine his interest in sports with accounting by presenting at The Cooperstown Symposium on Baseball and American Culture at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. “It’s the best paper in the world that doesn’t count for anything,” he says.

What does count, however, is when Allee gets students to discover the many possibilities with accounting, just like a kindly professor did with him many years ago.

“You don’t have to be an accountant in the long run,” Allee says. “But it’s a great place to start your career.”