King installed as Myron Northrop professor

Ronald R. King, Ph.D., was installed as the Myron Northrop Professor of Accounting Sept. 9 at the Olin School of Business’ Charles F. Knight Executive Education Center.

King was named to the professorship in July 2002.

Northrop, a 1926 business school alumnus, established the professorship by bequest in 1989. The first recipient of the Northrop chair was Meir J. Rosenblatt, Ph.D., who held the professorship from 1991 until his death in 2001.

“Professor King is a consummate scholar, unprepossessing and humble, but always present to do his indispensable part,” said Stuart I. Greenbaum, Ph.D., dean of the Olin School. “Ron has pioneered the application of behavioral methods to accounting research.”

At his Sept. 9 installation as the Myron Northrop Professor of Accounting, Ronald R. King, Ph.D., (left), chats with Gaylord Northrop, Myron's nephew, at the Olin School of business' Charles F. Knight Executive Education Center.
At his Sept. 9 installation as the Myron Northrop Professor of Accounting, Ronald R. King, Ph.D., (left), chats with Gaylord Northrop, Myron’s nephew, at the Olin School of business’ Charles F. Knight Executive Education Center.

King uses innovative research techniques to examine how legal and market institutions affect the production and use of accounting information. He has conducted influential research in the area of auditor independence, financial reporting and the development and decay of trust and reputations.

His principal research method is experimental economics, a methodology that allows for the controlled investigation of economic theories.

Recent research conducted by King assessed the effect of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s new rule that requires firms to disclose the amount of nonaudit fees paid to their auditors. The disclosure is intended to inform investors of auditors’ incentives to compromise their independence.

Using the experimental method, King’s results showed that subjects are prone to “belief persistence,” where people retain erroneous beliefs even after they observe discrediting evidence. This suggests that the disclosures of nonaudit fees should be interpreted in the light of other variables related to auditor independence.

Such experimental approaches achieved star status in October, when economist Vernon Smith of George Mason University received a Nobel Prize for establishing laboratory experiments as an essential tool in empirical economic analysis.

Smith, who served as King’s doctoral thesis adviser at the University of Arizona, visited the Olin School just days after he was notified of the award to participate in an interdisciplinary conference coordinated by King on trust and reciprocity in experimental economics.

“Professor King has opened a new paradigm that has illuminated heretofore opaque corners of the accounting universe,” Greenbaum said. “He is widely respected in the profession and has been integral to the Olin School’s reputational advance in academe.”

King joined the Olin School as assistant professor of accounting in 1986. He was promoted to associate professor in 1991 and was granted tenure in 1994.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in biology and a master of business administration degree, both from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. King is a certified public accountant.

He is the author of studies and articles that appeared in Contemporary Accounting Research, Journal of Accounting Research and The Accounting Review.

King also is associate editor of Contemporary Accounting Research and a board member of the Journal of Accounting & Public Policy and Auditing: A Journal of Practice and Theory. He has been honored twice with teaching awards from Olin School students.