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Aug 8, 2019 2019-08 Accountancy Faculty

Samet: Gies was "at the top of my list"

Jordan Samet couldn’t be happier to join the impressive roster of talent already teaching at Gies College of Business.

Jordan Samet 02“It was at the top of my list going into the job market,” said the new accounting faculty member, who is soon to complete his PhD in management at the Scheller College of Business at Georgia Tech.

“I’ve had my eye on Illinois ever since I started my PhD program because it’s always been one of the top programs in the country,” said Samet. “Tremendous research -particularly experimental behavior-based research - has come out of here, from people like Brooke Elliott, Mark Peecher, and Kevin Jackson. And when I found out that Michael Williamson and Gary Hecht had joined the faculty - who also do research in my area of focus - it became by far the most attractive place that I wanted to be.”

As an undergraduate student, Samet’s direction wasn’t always so clear. “I started out in chemistry and realized fairly early on that it wasn’t what I expected,” he said.

It was only when a cousin referred to accounting as “the chemistry of business” that he realized his penchant for problem solving could be used in a different way. That’s when he switched gears, completing his bachelor’s in accounting at the Sigmund Weis School of Business at Susquehanna University, followed by a master's from Tippie College of Business at the University of Iowa. From there, it was on to Georgia Tech and a PhD in management with an accounting focus and a minor in psychology.

At Gies, Samet will teach decision-making for accountancy while continuing his research, which uses behavioral and economic theory to understand how organizational control systems influence managers, employees, and manager-employee interactions.

“Some of my research looks into accounting information,” he said. “But my primary area of interest is looking at how we can use control systems within organizations to influence employees’ behavior or facilitate their decision-making, whether that’s through formal controls, informal controls, or just subtle framing of information.”

One of his current working papers examines the impact of resource constraints on employee creativity. While the findings show that constraints lead people to be more efficient with limited resources, they can also have a detrimental effect, causing them to feel mentally depleted and thus less creative at secondary tasks. Research like this could help companies striving to find the right balance between motivating efficiency and productivity.

For Samet, that’s the attraction of managerial accounting. “I like digging into organizations, finding the problem they’re having, and figuring out how to solve that, whether it’s creating higher-quality information, creating better incentives, or improving the way we share information.”

As an instructor, his primary goal is to help students excel in their chosen field, but to also help them appreciate the importance of accounting. For Samet, that means more than simply getting through the course and understanding the material. “I think it’s understanding that accounting is not an exact science. It’s a fuzzy, peculiar field where individuals create and process information very differently from one another.”

“It’s also important to understand that, if you’re a certified public accountant, your duty isn’t just to the owner of an organization; you have a duty to your community, your society, etc.,” said Samet. “I think that’s something that we have to imprint to a greater degree on future generations of accountants.”