WORK IN MULTIDISCIPLINARY TEAMS AS A TOOL FOR ACQUIRING SKILLS IN BUSINESS DEGREE
Team-working is recognized as important by 85% of employers second only to communication skills. Recent studies have revealed that accountants have problems when integrating into multidisciplinary working groups. One of the problems may be the type of teaching they receive in their academic life which has an individualistic character because the role of accountant has always been seen as a professional who interacts with all employees of the company but he/she really works in isolation because his/her work goes parallel with the operation of the company.
Today accounting has a more integrated role in companies. The need to control information causes the accountant should take a more active role in the decision making of companies participating in teams with different professionals such as engineers, lawyers, doctors, ...
This raises the need for accounting students not only of learning how to work together; but also with students from other Degrees. The students could acquire the skill in managing and participating in multidisciplinary teams which would facilitate their future professional performance (IFAC’s International Education Standard, IES 3, professional skills and general education, 2005).
The Faculty of Economics Sciences of the University of Cadiz (Spain), with the intention of working this skill, and in collaboration with the School of Engineering launched a teaching innovation project in which students of International Accounting and Auditing and Computer Engineering worked together in a project related to the development of a software which manages an audit program. Each team consisted of three accounting students and one engineering student. The future accountants had to design an audit program about a specific company. Later they had to explain the design to the engineer, who had no any idea about auditing, and working together, they had to develop the software. This software should allow an auditor and his/her team to organize the substantive tests to be made in a company, controlling when each test should be done and who should do and supervise each one. Furthermore, the software should contain the results of the tests. In this way, each member of the team could access to this results.
The innovation project results are quite interesting because they really have shown that students from both Degrees have found difficulties working together. Future accountants give more importance to the quality of the result than to the deadlines. Instead, future engineers feel more pressure by the deadline. It also has been found that communication among team members has played a very important role in the development of the final project. Teams with more fluency in communication have achieved a better integration and self-confidence in their results.