Accounting, Accountability and Responsibility

Research Lead: Dr Samantha Miles

The nature of the relationship between business and society is changing and in an era of low trust levels there is increasing pressure on organisations to be more accountable. There are also internal pressures within organisations to think strategically about their impact on a broad range of stakeholders as social responsibility is becoming increasingly important for organisational survival and competition.

The research in this cluster considers the broader roles of accounting and corporate governance in society and the impact they have on stakeholders. Research in this area explores the impact on a wide range of stakeholders including the financial markets and its participants such as the investment community and credit rating organisations (Dr Sandra Einig), regulators including tax authorities (Dr Kumari Juddoo) and accounting standard setters (Dr Ian Dennis), providers of social responsibility reporting and governance guidelines (Dr Samantha Miles, Kate Ringham, Dr Rebecca Hawkins), the accounting profession and accounting graduates embarking on a professional career (Catherine Dilnot, Ross Thompson, Jane Towers Clark) and other organisational stakeholders such as management, employees and community groups (Maureen McCulloch). These issues impact a range of organisations beyond the corporate sector, including charities and not for profit organisations in the third sector (Cathy Knowles, Dr Diana Limburg, Maureen McCulloch).

The overall goal of the AGR is to develop an international reputation in accountability and governance research. We aim to achieve this overall goal through our academic research projects, with particular emphasis on applied research using qualitative approaches, utilising our close links to the accountancy profession.


Within this research cluster there are four areas of research which explore the roles that accounting plays in society.

The Accounting Profession and Accounting Graduates

  • What affects accountancy career aspirations of final year female and male students at English universities? (Catherine Dilnot, 2015)
    Survey and focus group data was collected for this research on the factors influencing students as they make career choices, and their perceptions of the accountancy profession.
  • How does the choice of 'facilitating', 'useful' and 'less effective preparation' A-level subjects vary with students' socio-economic status in English state schools? (Catherine Dilnot, 2015)
    A taxonomy of A-level subjects according to their published efficacy in access to high status universities has been developed in this research which applies administrative data (National Pupil Database) to examine differences in take-up of these subjects by social background.
  • Making the Right Choice: the impact of A-level subject choices on the chances of getting into a Russell Group university (Catherine Dilnot, 2015)
    Working with Durham University this research uses UCAS data to examine the effect of taking facilitating subjects as well as grades on chances of admission to high status universities, in particular to examine the extent to which differences in subject choice might account for the ethnicity gap in gaining Russell Group places.
  • Information, advice and guidance interventions and entry to high status universities (Catherine Dilnot, 2015)
    orking with researchers at the University of Bristol and UCL, a randomised control trial of interventions in Bristol state schools aimed at increasing applications and enrolment to university is being explored.
  • Massive open online class (Ross Thompson, 2015)
    Working with the University of Northampton on this JISC funded research, a MOOC was developed based on their MBA programme where all teaching is done online and asynchronous and assessments were auto-marked. Key lessons learnt by the process were identified from a review of key success factors in MOOC development and a series of in-depth interviews with MOOC students.
  • Are undergraduate accounting students developing skills that meet stakeholder needs? An international perspective (Jane Towers Clark, 2015)
    This PhD research will evaluate and respond to the criticism that graduates are lacking generic skills from an international stakeholder perspective.

Systems, Governance, Audit and Tax

  • The compliance costs of VAT: The case of Republic of Mauritius (Dr Kumari Juddoo, 2014)
    This research proves the regressive effect of compliance costs of VAT. A regression model estimating the magnitude of total compliance costs was also formulated with the turnover level, number of invoices and methods of recording as significant indicators.
  • Here we go again…and again (Dr Ian Dennis, 2014)
    This research focuses on the revision of the conceptual framework for financial reporting currently being undertaken by the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB). It formed the basis of a comment letter to the IASB regarding their discussion paper on the revised conceptual framework.
  • The Nature of Accounting Regulation and Auditing Theory (Dr Ian Dennis, 2014-5)
    These two research projects have been published by Routledge in their ‘Studies in Accounting’ series.
  • Professional judgement, scepticism and evidence in auditing (Dr Ian Dennis, 2015)
    This research, funded by the ACCA, explores the nature of professional judgement, scepticism and evidence in auditing.
  • Credit ratings agencies (CRAs) (Dr Sandra Einig, 2015)
    Working on various projects with the University of the West of Scotland and Nottingham Trent University, this project explores market participants’ perceptions of ratings quality, the role of commitment in debt issuer: CRA relations and market participants’ perceptions of the recent EU regulation regarding CRAs.
  • Risks and challenges of UK bank nationalisations (Dr Sandra Einig, 2015)
    This research investigated the risks and challenges posed by banks that had to be part-nationalised during the financial crisis. It investigated reasons for the failures with a particular focus on weaknesses in corporate governance.
  • An investigation into the stewardship role of fund managers (Dr Sandra Einig, 2015)
    Working with Greenwich University this project investigates how fund managers discharge their stewardship responsibilities in engaging with their investee companies.
  • Strategy as accounting: insights from the Mauritius sugar industry (Dr Jyoti Jeetun, 2015)
    This research conceptualises how accounting problematisations may lead and shape strategising in firms. Through an empirical evaluation of the Mauritius Sugar Industry throughout a period of change and crisis, the findings indicate that a sustained focus on accounting’s relations to strategising may deepen our understandings of both accounting and strategy as practice.

Stakeholder Management, Measurement and Reporting

  • Delivering sustainable commitments in a global tour operator (Dr Rebecca Hawkins, 2015)
    This research aimed to deliver resource efficiency among 60 large resort hotels globally. The project included intensive audit, behaviour change and environmental monitoring and delivered energy savings of 5% and water savings of 11%.
  • Changing attitudes towards food waste in hospitality and food service businesses (Dr Rebecca Hawkins, 2015)
    Working with hospitality and food service businesses this research aimed to embed food waste prevention within corporate priorities and to implement a voluntary agreement on waste prevention savings, providing tangible case studies of head office attitudes and behaviour change among senior management teams.
  • Mainstreaming conservation priorities for tourism businesses (Dr Rebecca Hawkins, 2015)
    Working with the United Nations Development Programme and Birdlife International, this research aimed to embed mainstream conservation priorities in hotel and tourism business operations.
  • Accounting for stakeholder value (ASV) (Dr Samantha Miles, Kate Ringham, 2015)
    Using critical realism and conceptual enquiry, this research examines the extent objectives of financial and corporate social responsibility reporting and stakeholder theory can be enlisted, or are wanting, in an ASV system. ASV is found to be a function of the normative/strategic focus of value creation and whether information demands are driven by transparency or performance needs.
  • A conceptual framework for corporate social responsibility reporting (Dr Samantha Miles, Kate Ringham, Dr Ian Dennis, 2015)
    It is recognised that CSRR is seriously flawed and that proposed solutions are inadequate. What is needed to advance CSRR is a conceptual enquiry of CSRR that focuses on the key underpinning principles of the objectives of reporting in consideration of the conceptual framework as a setting of what is required from the practice of CSSR.
  • The classification of stakeholder theory definitions (Dr Samantha Miles, 2015)
    This paper presents the first major attempt at sorting, filtering and ordering stakeholder theory and stakeholder definitions to produce a comprehensive, multidimensional classification. The classification model is empirically tested with positive results on 885 stakeholder definitions.
  • Stakeholder theory definitions (Dr Samantha Miles, 2015)
    This research presents an unparalleled systematic review of the stakeholder concept. The findings, based on 885 definitions, extracted from 667 articles are analysed to elucidate: the extent complexity that currently exists; how stakeholder definitions have evolved; the particular aspects of definitions that are more or less essentially contested; how future research can assist in the optimal development of stakeholder theory.
  • Legitimacy and stakeholder theory in CSR reporting (Kate Ringham, 2015)
    Legitimacy theory and stakeholder theory have both been used as a theoretical framework for the analysis of CSR reporting and it is recognised that these theories overlap. This research explores the mechanism by which this overlap can be explained.
  • Critical review of corporate responsibility reporting (CRR) guidance (Kate Ringham, 2015)
    There is a range of CRR guidance in existence which informs the social construction of CR reporting. This research analyses the guidance provided relating to; the objectives of CR reporting, the boundary of CR reporting and the content of CR reports.
  • Recognition and measurement of alternative capitals (Dr Samantha Miles, Kate Ringham, 2015)
    Developments in Corporate Responsibility reporting, notably Integrated Reporting, recognise that alternative forms of capital exist. This research explores whether alternative forms of capital are recognised in corporate reports, how these are recognised and whether these capitals are measured.

Third Sector

  • Strategic alignment: measurement of efficiency and effectiveness in English and Welsh hospices (Cathy Knowles, 2015)
    This research considers how a hospice may be best seen to be efficient or effective. Rather than using public sector models to assess this, it applies the Performance Management and Control System (Ferreira and Otley, 2009) to identify the extent of alignment between aims, strategies, objectives measures and achievements in independent UK hospices.
  • Use of IT in not-for-profits (Dr Diana Limburg, 2012)
    This project explores the use of IT for performance management within the non-for-profit sector. Not-for-profits are often small organisations that struggle to make the best use of IT
  • How can Enterprise Performance Management Systems thinking help meet the information needs of charity trustees? (Dr Diana Limburg, Cathy Knowles, Maureen McCulloch, and Professor Laura Spira, 2012)
    As performance management becomes increasingly complicated, charities need to assess how their information systems can best support the changing demands for information from trustees. This Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland funded project investigates how an enterprise performance management approach might help charity management support trustees in fulfilling their charitable objectives and communication to external stakeholders.
  • What is the accounting paradigm developing in the third sector? (Maureen McCulloch, 2015)
    In attempting to deal with social business, accounting regimes have become increasingly complex to the point that academics and professionals are questioning their validity. This research explores accounting regimes of trading charities, co-operatives and “for more than profit” companies in order to assess the implications that these have for our concepts of business ownership, entity and activity.
  • Accounting for purpose: a neglected narrative? (Maureen McCulloch, 2015)
    This PhD research aims to learn from not-for-profit accounting, rethinking this accounting as for-purpose (rather than for profit or not). By analysing for-purpose accounting across a range of organisations the research aims to develop concepts to re-connect accounting with responsibility for impact.


Examples include:

  • Economic and Social Research Council Bloomsbury Doctoral Training Centre Studentship awarded to Catherine Dilnot for her research in access to high status universities and the professions: the role of subject choice, information, advice and guidance, and social background. (2013)
  • Funding from the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales awarded to Catherine Dilnot for her research in making career choices: what influences female final year students as they consider an accountancy career. (2013)

Associated Staff

PhD Students

PhD proposals are invited in the areas of corporate governance, corporate social responsibility and stakeholder theory, management and practice, audit theory and regulation, accounting for the third sector and taxation.

  • Marcin Duszynski
    Thesis:Governance and the evolution of the Polish business system
    Supervisors: Dr Sandra Einig and Dr Samantha Miles
  • Sylwia Peczak
    Thesis: Differences in the performance between state and independent banks in Poland, based on their differences in corporate governance practice
    Supervisors: Dr Sandra Einig and Dr Samantha Miles
  • Yifan Yang
    Thesis: What are the key factors that impact on the ability of unit-based middle-managers to contribute to corporate entrepreneurship?
    Supervisors: Dr Sandra Einig and Dr Samantha Miles
  • Waraporn Supmak
    Thesis: Enterprise Performance Management technologies in Third Sector Organisations
    Supervisors: Dr Paul Jackson, Dr Diana Limburg
  • Kate Varini
    Thesis: Transaction Profitability (TP) Analysis: a study to determine the profitability of contemporary sales transactions
    Supervisors: Dr Sandra Einig and Dr Samantha Miles


  • PhD Associate Dr Yu-Chun Pan, ’Creating the legal firm of the future’ with Brethertons Solicitors, supervised by Dr Diana Limburg and Dr Paul Jackson (2014-15).




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