George Foster AM earned a first class honours degree in economics and the University Medal at the University of Sydney in 1970. A Master of Economics from Sydney preceded doctoral studies at Stanford University where he is currently The Konosuke Matsushita Professor of Management. Prior to appointment at Stanford in 1978 he was at the University of Chicago and the Australian Graduate School of Management. Whilst at Chicago George wrote the first edition of his groundbreaking text Financial Statement Analysis. George Foster’s academic publication record is outstanding and includes more than sixty papers, nineteen of which have appeared in premier accounting journals including the Journal of Accounting Research, The Accounting Review, Accounting, Organizations and Society, Review of Accounting Studies, Journal of Accounting and Economics, Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis and Management Science. His research, which has embraced financial reporting, capital markets, management accounting, entrepreneurship and sports business management, has been conducted with a wide list of collaborators.Much of George’s academic teaching has focused on management accounting. In the mid-1980s he was invited by Charles T Horngren to co-author the sixth edition of the hugely successful Cost Accounting, A Managerial Emphasis. He conducted a substantial restructuring and broadening of focus of the text, consulting managers and managerial accountants as to how changes in manufacturing and operations were affecting information systems generally, and management accounting specifically. He remained a co-author until the tenth edition. Field-based research on management accounting in the 1990s covered many areas at the forefront of the discipline – Just In Time, Flexible Manufacturing and Activity Based Costing. In the late 1990s he turned his attention to entrepreneurship and from 2002 to 2005 focused on the adoption of management systems by early stage companies, highlighting the importance of financial budgeting for early-stage company growth. Multiple research papers examined the link between the valuation of privately held growth companies and associated financial information. A further extension came with work in the sports management business. George Foster’s reputation in both the capital market and early-stage company areas has attracted interest from policy bodies, regulators and government including the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), the Australian Securities Exchange, and Trade and Investment NSW as well as the World Economic Forum. George has maintained connections with Australia contributing regularly to Australian journals, consulting Australian companies and governments and attending conferences. Two honorary doctorates from European universities; two Competitive Manuscript Awards in 1975 and 1976 and the 1993 Outstanding Educator Award all from the American Accounting Association; two Notable Contribution Awards in 1979 and 1981 from the AICPA and the Meritorious Contribution to Accounting Literature in 1979 from the Australian Society of Accountants, are some of the many awards that acknowledge the importance of George Foster’s lifetime of work.
The Australian Accounting Hall of Fame honours George Foster as a widely recognised and hugely respected researcher, author, educator and advisor.
George Foster graduated Bachelor of Economics from the University of Sydney in 1970 with First Class Honours supervised by RJ Chambers (AAHoF 2010) and the University Medal followed by Master of Economics supervised by MC Wells (AAHoF 2012). He completed his doctorate at Stanford University in 1975 under the supervision of WH Beaver. He is currently The Konosuke Matsushita Professor of Management in the Knight Management Center at Stanford University. Prior to his appointment at Stanford in 1978, he was on the faculty of the University of Chicago (1975 to 1977) and the Australian Graduate School of Management at the University of New South Wales (1977 to 1978).
He has been a visiting professor and taught courses at numerous universities around the world and has received many awards for his research and teaching. A long record of publication commenced with a paper from his Accounting Honours thesis in Abacus (1969) and a Journal of Accounting Research (JAR 1973) paper from his first-year research paper at Stanford. His doctoral work produced three papers in leading journals, JAR (1975), Journal of Finance (JF 1977) and The Accounting Review (TAR 1977), the latter winning the 1975 Competitive Manuscript Award of the American Accounting Association (AAA). At Chicago, George Foster wrote the first edition of his ground-breaking text Financial Statement Analysis. This book received the Citation
for Meritorious Contribution to Accounting Literature from the Australian Society of Accountants in 1979 and a Notable Contributions Award in 1983 by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA).
George Foster’s publication record is outstanding and sustained. He has published more than sixty papers, nineteen of which have appeared in premier accounting and finance journals along with a range of specialist academic and practitioner journals. His research has embraced financial reporting and capital markets. His 1977 TAR paper which focused on the time series properties and predictive ability of quarterly accounting data, also received the 1976 Competitive Manuscript Award of the AAA. Two papers in the Review of Accounting Studies (1998, 2007) continued this theme.
Challenging conventional wisdom has been an ongoing aspect of his research in financial accounting. When challenged by the CFO of McDonald’s Corporation to explain the negative market reaction following an ‘accounting expose’ in Barron’s by Abe Briloff, Foster responded with a detailed report that led to a JAR paper in 1978 and in 1986 a paper in the Journal of Accounting, Auditing and Finance. A widely cited paper with Chris Olsen and Terry Shevlin documented phenomenon not explained by the efficient markets hypothesis (TAR 1984) and in more recent times a comprehensive analysis of accounting accruals at the time of initial public offerings with Chris Armstrong and Daniel Taylor was published in 2016 in Management Science.
Much of George’s academic teaching has focused on management accounting. In the mid-1980s he was invited by Charles Horngren to co-author Cost Accounting, A Managerial Emphasis. Horngren embraced Foster’s commitment to a major restructuring and broadening of this hugely successful text. He remained a co-author until the tenth edition in 2000. In this process he consulted managers and managerial accountants and worked with an industry-sponsored body (CAM-I) in the 1990s examining how changes in manufacturing and operations were affecting information systems generally, and management accounting specifically. Three CAM-I Reports and an associated article in the Journal of Management Accounting Research (JMAR 1994) resulted from this work. Two other industry reports on Activity Based Accounting were published in 1995 and 1997. Field based research on management accounting in the 1990s covered many areas that were at the forefront of changes in both teaching and the practice of the discipline – JIT Manufacturing, Flexible Manufacturing and ABC. Working with Hewlett Packard, Foster conducted, with Mahendra Gupta, an extensive analysis of cost- behavior in their manufacturing plants. Articles on management accounting were published in academic journals such as JAE and JMAR together with practitioner journals. Two monographs published by the AAA were co-authored by Foster with Philip Brown (AAHoF 2010) and Eric Noreen in 1985 and with Brown and Greg Clinch in 1992.
In the late 1990s George commenced research and teaching in the entrepreneurship area. From 2002 to 2005, with Antonio Davila he focused on the adoption of management systems by early stage companies. Papers from this research have been published in TAR (2005, 2007) and AOS (2009) and the Californian Management Review (CMR 2010). This project impacted practice in a very substantive way with the TAR paper highlighting the importance of financial budgeting for early-stage company growth. The CMR article received the Accenture Award for the paper that would ‘make the most important contribution to improving the practice of management.’ Multiple research papers by Foster also examine the link between the valuation of privately held growth companies and associated financial information from those companies.
A further extension to George’s portfolio of interests came in the early 2000s with the development of a number of resources focused on the sports management business. Traditionally most academic and professional business programs in the sports industry have not been designed or taught by individuals with a strong accounting or finance background. George’s background has meant the programs and educational resources he has developed can instill a much stronger appreciation for financial information. Multiple assignments and cases he developed have financial statement information as a central part of the platform for analysis and learning.
George Foster’s reputation in both the capital market and early- stage company areas has attracted interest from policy bodies, regulators and government. In the late 1970s the US based Accounting Principles Board solicited input on accounting for natural resource stocks. George offered a strong contribution to the policy discussions and the JAE (1980) paper that followed
received the 1981 ‘Notable Contributions Award’ from the AICPA. He has also advised the Australian Securities Exchange on Australian technology stocks and Trade and Investment NSW on the digital economy. His research profile in entrepreneurship led to an invitation from the World Economic Forum (WEF) resulting in several reports on Global Entrepreneurship, multiple presentations at Davos and regional meetings in China and India as chair of the WEF Global Agenda Council on Entrepreneurship. The findings from both WEF Reports have been presented on many occasions and he has been called upon frequently by the Australian Embassy in the US to address visiting groups in Silicon Valley.
Throughout, George Foster has maintained connections with Australia. As a frequent visitor he participates in scholarly activities, regularly contributes to Australian journals, consults with Australian companies and governments and attends conferences. Most importantly, he continues to work with Australian colleagues in teaching and research. The awards received are recognition of an outstanding career which has been recognised around the world – two honorary doctorates, multiple awards for teaching and research by the AAA and the AICPA, joint authorship of the world’s most widely prescribed text books in management accounting, an impressive list of publications in the world’s premier academic journals and associate editorship of TAR. George Foster has been, and continues to be one of Australia’s most widely recognised and respected academic accountants.