2023 Best Undergraduate Professors: Bright Asante-Appiah, Lehigh University College of Business

Bright Asante-Appiah
Lehigh University College of Business


“I took Professor Asante-Appiah’s Accounting 151 class as a sophomore, and I credit Professor Asante-Appiah for both enabling and encouraging me to pursue a degree in accounting. He is extremely personable, so he would present accounting concepts with relevant, interesting examples, incorporating us and our experiences into his accounting exercises. I probably spent as much time laughing at one of Professor Asante-Appiah’s jokes as I spent doing journal entries (and I did a lot of journal entries). My primary reason for nominating Professor Asante-Appiah is that he transformed a potentially intense, frustrating introductory-accounting course for young business students into an energetic, collaborative experience, and he did so while providing an effective structure for learning accounting. Even today, a full year since I took his class, Professor Asante-Appiah and I have sustained our relationship, and I can count on him to make me laugh after walking out into the hallway from my Accounting 324 exams.” – Jack Sherman


Bright Asante-Appiah, 47, is Assistant Professor of Accounting at Lehigh University College of Business.

He transitioned into academia after 10 years’ experience in public accounting and industry. His prior public accounting experience includes the “Big 4” firms, auditing SEC registrants in manufacturing, retail, communication, and energy sectors. 

His research delves into how corporate governance mechanisms affect financial reporting and audit quality, firm value, ESG (environmental, social and governance) risks and opportunities and managerial myopia. His research is motivated by corporate governance regulatory and practice questions of the day and uses empirical-archival methods that best fit the research question.

His articles have been published in Contemporary Accounting Research, Journal of Accounting and Public Policy, and Review of Accounting Studies. He has also presented his work at major academic conferences such as the American Accounting Association, European Accounting Association, the Hawaii Accounting Research Conference, and the University of Illinois Symposium on Auditing Research. 

He serves on the editorial board of the International Journal of Accounting and the International Auditing Journal. 


At current institution since what year? 2015

Education: Kennesaw State University, DBA (now named PhD) in Business Administration (Clendenin Scholar); Eastern Illinois University, Master of Business Administration; University of Cape Coast (Ghana), Bachelor of Commerce (First Class Honors)

List of Undergraduate courses you teach: Data Analytics, Financial Accounting, Managerial Accounting, Auditing and Assurance, and Fraud Examination


I knew I wanted to be a business school professor when … after a 10 year corporate career (in industry and public accounting) in Ghana and the United States, I decided I wanted a career that would make a difference in young people’s lives. At the time I thought about this, I was working at the global headquarters of a Fortune 100 company, where I had three progressive positions in three years in the SEC reporting, IFRS conversion and Accounting Policy departments. The nature of my job provided me opportunities to interact with executives of the company, and I felt I had a tremendous opportunity to grow within the company. But I always questioned the impact of my work on society. That is when I decided that an academic career would give me the satisfaction that I wanted – the opportunity to be part of young people’s lives. The difficult part was quitting a good-paying job with career growth, which made it a difficult, risky decision. I am glad I took the risk and transitioned to academia. 

What are you currently researching and what is the most significant discovery you’ve made from it? My research is driven by corporate governance practice and regulatory problems of the day, using empirical methods to address them. For example, a current governance challenge in the U.S is addressing stagnant employee wages despite sustained periods of economic growth, which has been described as a management problem. Paying non-executive employees more and meeting or exceeding wall street profit expectations can be a strange little dance because high employee costs negatively affect current period profits and can have negative stock market outcomes. 

My co-author and I developed a measure of wage fairness, based on efficiency wages theory, that links fair wages to productivity. We find that compensating employees more fairly (linking expected pay to expected performance) is associated with positive firm outcomes. However, we find that managerial short-termism (i.e., firms that focus on sacrificing future value for short-term profit gains) is associated with less fair pay, and that CEO contracting is a tool that the board of directors can use to curb managerial short-termism when it comes to non-executive employee pay fairness.  

If I weren’t a business school professor, I’d be … Entomologist — I like to study and write about the ways, hard work, and wisdom of ants. I believe there is something “     there, there” to guide human behavior.

What do you think makes you stand out as a professor? The first is my approach to teaching. Business school is not a scientific school, it is a professional school that should engage with the business community. I believe professors have a duty to train students to be critical thinkers, job ready, and business leaders. From my experience in the corporate world, movers and shakers are problem-solvers, raise their hand, and lead. Accounting education should not only emphasize the nuts and bolts of accounting, but also build an intuition of knowledge that allows students to conceptualize, evaluate alternative and differing economic transactions, make sound judgment, and provide insights. I create an atmosphere that challenges and rewards students to be active participants in knowledge creation. I deliberately design class sequence and activities to make students actively participate in problem solving and communicate insights. My exam questions are typically not pre-defined or textbook driven; they center around class activities/problems, discussions, and conclusions. This brings energy to the classroom – it is rare to see a student doze off in my accounting class. 

The second is my willingness to teach multiple courses across the undergraduate accounting curriculum while keeping my commitment to quality academic research. This is also perhaps due to my prior experiences working in different accounting roles and my desire to understand how the various courses in the accounting curriculum work together. 

The third is my commitment to mentor students, including those not formally assigned to me. It is a privilege when students in other disciplines keep professional relationships with me, approach me for career advice and recommendation after taking Introduction to Financial Accounting course with me in their sophomore year.

One word that describes my first time teaching: Suspenseful

Here’s what I wish someone would’ve told me about being a business school professor: While a tenure-track academic career is stimulating and satisfying, it comes with long working hours, particularly in a school committed to excellence in research and excellence in teaching. I work more hours as a professor than I used to during my corporate career. The difference is, unlike corporate, I am largely the boss of my time. 

Professor I most admire and why: I admire professors who create engaging classrooms, facilitate knowledge discovery, and motivate students to reach their potential. 


What do you enjoy most about teaching business students? Many students I have taught are often curious and open minded. I like it when students approach me to say that they want to major in accounting or at least have a minor in accounting because I changed their perceptions. I ask students to complete an information gathering questionnaire during the first week of class. I use the responses to gauge, among other things, students’ perceptions of the class. 

In my Introduction to Financial Accounting class, one common perception that students have before they step foot in the class is that accounting is a challenging and boring discipline. Yes, I know accounting is a challenging discipline; but I never found accounting boring in practice (either in public or corporate accounting). I use my engaging, live accounting teaching approach with real world problems to change minds and perceptions. I enjoy seeing students beaming with smiles, confidence, and profess accounting as the language of business at the end of the semester. I feel it is great when students tell me that I challenged their perceptions and that I mattered in their choice to major in accounting. Generally, it is a joy to facilitate a learning process that guides students from anxiety to mastery and confidence.

What is most challenging? Balancing increasing academic (and often scientific as opposed to professional) research expectations and adequately preparing students to become problem solvers and business leaders.

In one word, describe your favorite type of student: Curious. When a student demonstrates curiosity and willingness to work from struggle to mastery. 

In one word, describe your least favorite type of student: Lazy. I get frustrated with students who feel entitled to and are unwilling to put in the effort to earn a grade.

When it comes to grading, I think students would describe me as … Tough but fair.


What are your hobbies? I enjoy walking and chatting with friendly people in my community, going site-seeing, rolling up my sleeves to do basic home repairs, watching soccer, washing dishes, and cooking. 

How will you spend your summer? As usual, I plan to attend academic conferences, visit and spend time with my family and friends in Ghana, and do volunteering work. 

Favorite place(s) to vacation: I have not had time for a vacation in the past 5 years. But I would love to spend time to visit and explore the Caribbean with my family when I can.

Favorite book(s): The most recent book I read is Lead to Win by Carla Harris.

What is currently your favorite movie and/or show and what is it about the film or program that you enjoy so much? I enjoy watching Nigeria movies that portray how ancient African kings ruled their kingdoms.

What is your favorite type of music or artist(s) and why? I enjoy listening and dancing to Ghana highlife music.


If I had my way, the business school of the future would have much more of this … when quality is measured based on the competence of graduates in the business world and when quality of academic research is measured based on its contributions to practice and regulation.

In my opinion, companies and organizations today need to do a better job at … Companies need to recognize and reward employees’ hard work and dedication, invest in human resources and the right technology and tools to support productivity and innovation, and engage and meet the needs and expectations of all stakeholders, not just shareholders. Corporate directors’ relentless focus on maximizing shareholder wealth largely ignores other stakeholders and contributes to the growing inequality of income.

I’m grateful for … My parents who instilled the values of discipline and hard work in me, the society that continues to shape my life, the teachers and professors who mentored me, the students who give me opportunity to be part of their upbringing, my colleagues who challenge my professional life, and to my wife and children who are the unsound heroes of my life.


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