Research


Accounting Professor’s Big Focus: Preventing, Detecting Corporate Tax Loopholes

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Assistant professor of accounting Frank Murphy is very familiar with the demands placed on UConn’s undergraduate accounting majors. Just 13 years ago, he was in their shoes.

After earning his bachelor’s degree in business from UConn in 2007, Murphy worked at Deloitte in Hartford for six years, performing international tax consulting for Fortune 100 clients. He also completed a masters from Bentley University, a Ph.D. from University of Arizona and became a licensed CPA.

He returned to UConn as a faculty member in 2017.

“Many of the professors who I had as an undergraduate have retired, but Dave Weber is one of the faculty members who instructed me, and someone who I now work with often,” Murphy said. “I think it’s great when professionally things come full circle.”

“What I enjoy most about my job is conducting research and having complete creative freedom to pursue topics that interest me,” he said. “I also love working with the Ph.D. students who are so driven and give 110 percent to truly becoming a scholar.”

Murphy specializes in corporate taxation, primarily focusing on international tax planning and financial reporting issues. Below he answers questions about his work.

Q: What is the business problem that you most want to address as a researcher?

A: Well, there are two. In the realm of public finance, academics are trying to work with Congress, the European Union, and other governing bodies on issues surrounding how large, multinational corporations avoid taxes. When nations write tax policies, there are always going to ambiguities in the law and unintended consequences. At this point, the general sentiment among policymakers, and the public, is that large multinational firms are not paying their fair share. What is “fair” is subjective, but as an academy we are still trying to determine how much and what types of firms are most likely to move profits offshore for tax purposes. This policy frontier is exciting for researchers like myself, and one of the focuses of my work.

Another interest of mine is how we disclose tax information. You hear, for example, people talking about Amazon and how they can’t tell whether the company pays tax or how much it pays. I’m interested in this type of tax disclosure. Anyone who has ever picked up a financial statement and tried to read the tax footnote likely thinks, ‘There must be a better way than this!’ My research helps identify how firms may want to supplement their reporting to aid financial statement users.

Assistant professor Frank Murphy (Nathan Oldham / UConn School of Business)
Assistant professor Frank Murphy (Nathan Oldham / UConn School of Business)

Q: What is on your research ‘bucket list’?

A: In the future, I’d like to have the opportunity to run some field experiments with government agencies. It would be interesting to work with state agencies to delve more deeply into their tax structure to see how it influences actions. For example, the revenue estimates for the 10¢ plastic bag tax have been far off the mark. The reason is that we did not have a strong grasp on how quickly consumers or stores would change their shopping bag practices. The goal of this research would be to further understand how taxes influence real decision making. It would be a huge time commitment, but something that would be very interesting.

Q: What advice do you offer to your students as they prepare for their careers? How much is ‘big data’ knowledge in demand?

A: Certainly any accounting student who can do computer coding or analyze statistical trends in data will be in tremendous demand in the job market right now. At the same time, that’s not our bread-and-butter. Our job is to understand the accounting field, and we ultimately aim to produce the next generation of CPAs. I think it is also important to note that our students shouldn’t have a single focus on taking classes to tackle ‘big data.’ Our world is increasingly quantitative, but there is an equally strong demand for writing and critical-thinking skills. In the accounting profession, I think those who are able to write a great email to a client are worth their weight in gold.


Q&A: Keeping an Eye on the Gatekeepers of Retirement Funds

Jose Vicente Martinez, assistant professor of finance. (Nathan Oldham / UConn School of Business)
Jose Vicente Martinez, assistant professor of finance. (Nathan Oldham / UConn School of Business)

Jose Vicente Martinez, assistant professor of finance, joined UConn six years ago, after working as a university lecturer and senior research fellow in finance at Said Business School at the University of Oxford.Continue Reading



Bad Bosses: Tell-Tale Signs, Potential Solutions

Angry manager shouting at his coworkers during a meeting in the office.
(istockphoto.com)

During his time as a strategic planner with his former employer, Professor Kyoungjo “Jo” Oh had a tyrannical boss, who used to yell, swear, berate, and bully his employees.

The experience fostered Oh’s interest in organizational behavior, human resources management, and workplace civility. He hopes his research can help make the workplace more welcoming for all.Continue Reading


Hometown Advantage? CEOs Tend to Acquire Companies in Familiar Stomping Grounds

UConn Today – Multinational conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway bought CEO Warren Buffett’s struggling hometown newspaper. Amazon acquired Whole Foods, which is headquartered in the same state where CEO Jeff Bezos grew up and owns a home.

New research shows these deals aren’t coincidences. Companies are 2.5 times more likely to acquire firms headquartered in the state where their CEO grew up than similar firms located elsewhere, the study found.

Read article


Promotional Games at Retail Stores Increase Consumer Spending

UConn Today – Shoppers who win retail discounts through scratch-off tickets or other games of chance are more likely to make a purchase, and spend more money, than customers offered standard discounts that apply to everyone, according to a new study led by the University of Connecticut.Continue Reading


Married CEOs Are More Committed to Social Issues Than Non-Married Peers

UConn Today – If a company wants a leader who is committed to corporate social responsibility, it would be wise to hire a married man. Married men in the top leadership jobs typically have greater concern for their employees’ well-being, and are more accepting of diverse employees, than are their non-married peers.


New Business School Faculty for 2019

Top row, left to right: Yiming Qian (Finance), Miao Bai (OPIM), Nina Xu (Accounting).  Bottom row, left to right: Stefan Hock (Marketing), Chen Liang (OPIM), Weining Bao (Marketing). (UConn School of Business)
Top row, left to right: Yiming Qian (Finance), Miao Bai (OPIM), Nina Xu (Accounting). Bottom row, left to right: Stefan Hock (Marketing), Chen Liang (OPIM), Weining Bao (Marketing). (UConn School of Business)

The School of Business is welcoming 10 new faculty members this fall, including Yiming Qian, a full professor, who will chair the new Toscano Family Chair in Finance. Continue Reading


IPOs that disclose ‘bad news’ go public at lower prices

(istockphoto.com)
(istockphoto.com)

As part of their professional responsibilities, external auditors must assess a cornerstone assumption of financial accounting: namely, whether there is substantial doubt that the company, whose financials they are examining, will continue to operate as a ‘going concern’ (GC). If they conclude that such doubt exists, they must disclose this in their audit opinion. Continue Reading


Even In Life-or-Death Situations, Friendships Matter

A new UConn study found that even in life-or-death emergencies, workplace friendships – and enmities – matter. (Semin Park/UConn Photo)
A new UConn study found that even in life-or-death emergencies, workplace friendships – and enmities – matter. (Semin Park/UConn Photo)

A chaotic, mass-casualty, emergency response drill proved the ideal setting for management Ph.D. candidate Semin Park to test a theory about how dynamic conflict relations emerge and evolve over time. Continue Reading