Scenario Plans (& Delphi Research)

I looked into the future, and the time to act is now.

Tag: HR

Making sure the IRS Preparers are Prepared… Backcasting & Learning Theory

Dr Dave Schrader recently (December 2016) completed a very cool dissertation pertaining to the IRS and their (in)ability to assess tax preparers’ competency, and their (in)ability to test the preparers’ preparedness. {Sure, that’s easy for you to say!}

Over that last few years, the IRS has been charged with determining Tax Preparers’ competency. (Not the CPAs, mind you, but the millions of — shall we say — undocumented tax preparers.) The problem was that the IRS had not really determined what the preparers should know, before trying to test that they knew it.

Just as the IRS was starting to launch a “testing” of competencies, the civil courts forced Congress to pull the rug out. Another year or so has passed since a volunteer compliance program is in place…  Still no uniform requirements as to what those preparers should know in order to be prepared for the tests. But most importantly, now it’s not just tests, even if they start up again. With the change in Federal Law governing competency, tax preparers must be competent every single time they sign their name to a tax return. No matter how complicated!

What could go wrong with this? ! 🙂

So, Dave’s challenge was to do a dissertation into this murky quagmire. He found out the requirements, what they should know (generally), how they should learn it, and how competency should be assessed. As an afterthought, he tied this all into learning theory. To frame the skill identification, development, and assessment model, he tied the process into a construct for an effective total learning system.

If the dissertation sounds busy, that’s why. Lots of tables and charts to guide the reader through the mundane and the details.

Anyone teaching accounting should be interested in this dissertation. The management within the IRS should be calling Dr Dave in to assist with their Preparer Preparedness Program!.

From an Human Resources (HR) or management perspective, this is a very cool study. First is the skills needed. It works backwards from the skills needed to how and where to develop those skills: education, on-the-job training, or job experience. This is most of the way to “HR backcasting” for developing the skills needed for future jobs. Although backcasting is often used pertaining to economic development, the method, by necessity, must consider skills of the workers for those future jobs.

Can’t wait for the articles that will come out of this dissertation by this accountant (Accredited Accountant, Tax Preparer, and Advisor), teacher and newly minted Doctor.

References

Schrader, David M. (2016). Modified Delphi investigation of core competencies for tax preparers. D.B.A. dissertation, University of Phoenix, Arizona. Dissertations & Theses @ University of Phoenix database.

A single round (1 round) Delphi study. How can that be?

The 2007 Lentz Dissertation by Cheryl Lentz (Dr Cheryl) was interesting in many ways. One is that it was a single round study. What she was doing was following on research that had been conducted previously. So she was able to use the prior research for the information and the factors that she would have needed to gather in round 1 of a full Delphi study. I know, I know. That’s not a Delphi study then if only 1 round. But she chose to still call it a Modified Delphi, study in large part, because of the use of experts.

She recruited HR experts to do the study. The results turned out to be a bit of a conundrum, as she discussed in her 2009 article in the Refractive Thinker. But that’s another post discussion.

There are several ways to change a Delphi study from the classical approach used by RAND back in the cold war era, and therefore to categorize it as a “modified” Delphi study. One way is to use informed people, so that you avoid having to get “experts” to participate. Plus then you would have to justify the criteria used to decide what represents and expert. Another approach is not necessarily to aim for consensus.  Most studies using Delphi don’t need full consensus; often they are aiming for best practices or the most important factors. The UCLA/Delphi approach is used to get medical experts to decide on a single best protocol for treatment (in the absence of conclusive laboratory research). In this case, they do need to aim for consensus. Without enough evidence and experience, no medical protocol should be recommended at all.

So, with all that said, do you think that Dr Lentz’s dissertation with only one round (essentially a second round) should have been categorized as a Delphi study?

A whole different question is, can a Delphi study be mixed method or quantitative? (Most people think of Delphi as Qualitative?)

Hall (2009) presents a table that summarizes the various categories between/among types of nominal studies. See the next blog post here related to the conundrum of the findings in this research study.

Reference

Hall, E. (2009). The Delphi primer: Doing real-world or academic research using a mixed-method approach. In C. A. Lentz (Ed.), The refractive thinker: Vol. 2: Research Methodology, (pp. 3-27). Las Vegas, NV: The Refractive Thinker® Press. Retrieved from: http://www.RefractiveThinker.com/

Lentz, C. A. (2007).  Strategic decision making in organizational performance: A quantitative study of employee inclusiveness. D.M. dissertation, University of Phoenix, Arizona. Dissertations & Theses @ University of Phoenix database. (Publication No. AAT 3277192).

Lentz, C. (2009). The modified ask-the-experts Delphi method: The conundrum of human resource experts on management participation. In C. A. Lentz (Ed.), The refractive thinker: Vol. 2: Research Methodology, (pp. 51-75). Las Vegas, NV: The Refractive Thinker® Press. Retrieved from: http://refractivethinker.com/rt-vol-ii/

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