Kawika Pierson, CMA

Associate Professor of Accounting and Quantitative Methods

Areas of Instruction 

I teach introductory classes in accounting in both the full-time Early Career MBA program, as well as the evening MBA for Professionals program. I also teach electives that focus on topics such as systems thinking and financial statement analysis.


I attended MIT's Sloan School, earning a PhD in Management, focusing on System Dynamics and Accounting. My scholarly work is similarly interdisciplinary, but one stream of research is focused on the development and use of data about municipal and state finances.

Early in my career I worked in the private sector as a derivatives trader, trading commodities and options for Louis Dreyfus Commodities both in the domestic market and in China. As a consultant, I have worked with environmental engineering firms, hedge funds, and nonprofit organizations.  I have served as a member of government committees and boards of directors, including the DHS/OHA Audit Committee.

I came to Willamette because of our strong emphasis on a balance between teaching and research.  I devote far more time to making my classes enjoyable than most research intensive universities would approve of, and I benefit greatly from that effort. At the same time, I also deeply value the the collection of world class scholars assembled on our faculty.

Approach to Teaching and Learning

My goal is ultimately to make sure students understand the fundamental concepts that underlie accounting in a managerial setting, and I strive to create opportunities to challenge those students who want to push further in order to better understand the systems that drive interesting behaviors across disciplines.


  • Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • B.S.E.E., Northwestern University

Research Interests

My research interests lie in the application of differential equation modeling to problems in accounting and other areas of management. In accounting, my research is focused on public financial management, while my interdisciplinary research ranges from explaining and correcting the relative age effect in professional sports to better understanding utility pole decay and optimal replacement.

In addition to publishing in high quality academic journals. I have presented at conferences including the International Systems Dynamics Conference, the Public Management Research Association Conference, and the Production and Operations Management Society Conference.

Selected Publications

Thompson, F., Pierson, K., Hand, M. L., & Dothan M. (2016) Is a Good Normative Model of Public Spending Run Backward A Good Positive Model? Public Budgeting and Finance. (in-press) doi: 10.1111/pbaf.12121

Pierson, K., & Blanc, T. (2016) The Operational Determinants of Utility Pole Decay and Optimal Replacement in the Pacific NorthwestIEEE Transactions on Power Delivery. 31(5): 2223-2230 doi: 10.1109/TPWRD.2016.2517043

Pierson, K., & Thompson, F. (2016) How You Buy Affects What You Get: Technology Acquisition by State Governments. Government Information Quarterly. 33(3): 494-505 doi: 10.1016 /j.giq.2016.06.003

Thompson, F., Pierson, K., Walker, R. (2016) Property Tax Fairness in Multnomah County, Oregon. California Journal of Politics and Policy. 8(2) doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.5070/P2cjpp8230561

Pierson, K., Hand, M., & Thompson, F. (2015). The Government Finance Database: A Common Resource for Quantitative Research in Public Financial Analysis PLoS ONE. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0130119

Claus, L., Maletz, S., Casoinic, D., & Pierson, K. (2015). Social Capital and Cultural Adjustment of International Assignees in NGOs: Do Support Networks Really Matter? The International Journal of Human Resource Management. 6(20): 2523-2542 doi:10.1080/09585192.2014.1003083

Hand, M. L., Pierson, K., & Thompson, F. (2015). A Replication Study of ‘Why Do Cities Hoard Cash?' (The Accounting Review, 2009)Public Finance Review. 44(5) doi:10.1177/1091142115580130

Pierson, K., Addona, V., & Yates, P. (2014). A Behavioural Dynamic Model of the Relative Age Effect. Journal of Sports Sciences. 32(8): 776-784 doi:10.1080/02640414.2013.855804

Pierson, K. & Sterman, J. (2013). Cyclical Dynamics of Airline Industry Profits. System Dynamics Review. 29: 129-156 doi: 10.1002/sdr.1501

Honors, Awards and Distinctions

  • Jerry E. Hudson Award for Excellence in Teaching, Willamette University (2015)
  • Certified Management Accountant (2014)
  • Award for Excellence in Teaching, Atkinson Graduate School of Management (2012)
  • Sloan Nominee for the Goodwin Medal for Conspicuously Effective Teaching (2009)
  • BP/MIT Energy Fellowship (2009)
  • MIT Sloan School of Management Doctoral Fellowship (2006)
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology Presidential Award (2006)
  • Erdős Number: 4, Paul Erdős -> James Baumgartner -> Stanley Wagon -> Vittorio Addona