Business and Management

Accounting research seminars

Accounting research seminars take place on the following dates. Click on the seminar title for more information about each seminar and the speaker(s).

Upcoming seminars

No items are currently available.

Past seminars

Autumn term 2017
27 September
Accounting signifiers, political discourse, popular resistance and legal identity
Trevor Hopper (University of Sussex)


Using the privatization of Pakistan Steel Mills (PSM) as an empirical site and drawing on Laclau and Mouffe’s (1985) discourse theory, this paper traces the discursive struggle between two discourses on the valuation and privatization of PSM. Specific signifiers were articulated and re-articulated into different chains of equivalence to create an appeal for each discourse surrounding the steel mill’s valuation. The anti-privatization discourse’s ‘success’ derived from its ‘interdiscursivity’ i.e. drawing on disparate signifiers from different meta-discourses; accounting, nationalism, state corruption and ‘informal’ signifiers such as ‘family silver’, ‘market value’ and ‘throw away price’.

In contrast, the pro-privatization discourse drew on a homogenous (financial) economics discourse using more formal and technical signifiers such as ‘going concern’ and ‘sensitivity-adjusted discounted cash flow value’. The anti-privatization discourse, with its diverse and informal (accounting) signifiers gained ‘empirical validity’, ‘narrative fidelity’, ‘and experiential commensurability’, appealed more to the masses, the media, and the judiciary. It convinced them selling PSM was a grave injustice, which must be prevented. Hence the Supreme Court reversed the privatization decision, which soured executive-judiciary relations, and led the military government to suspend the Chief Justice, and later the judiciary, media outlets, and the Constitution, which precipitated a successful social movement for an independent judiciary and the restoration of democracy. Events were shaped by the various interests of parties concerned and created new identities for them. The paper concludes by reflecting on how the findings contribute to, and add new issues for accounting research using discourse analysis.


25 October
Student-Doctoral Education Fit: Factors affecting Accounting Doctoral Timely, Untimely and Non-Completion
Anne-Marie Ward (Ulster University)


There is a shortage of accounting doctoral graduates and an increasing demand for this resource. The shortage can be examined from two viewpoints, barriers to entry and retention. Examined through the lens of fit theory, which predicts superior performance when there is student-doctoral education fit, our study provides insights on retention. In particular, it identifies fit factors that cause doctoral-studies under-performance (untimely completion or withdrawal).

Fit is examined using a multi-dimensional model of student-doctoral environment fit (including student-organisation fit, student-private environment fit and student-people fit), student-vocation fit (including student-motivation fit and student-learning environment fit) and student-doctoral culture fit (student-learning identity fit, student-writing fit and student-personal characteristics fit). We surveyed 36 doctoral students using an in-depth 39-question survey instrument.

We find that the most influential factors causing divergence from fit emanate from students’ private environment, including external workload, family commitments, other commitments and ill health. Personal characteristics also contributed to a loss of fit, with students identifying difficulties with time management and project management as having a negative influence on timely completion.

This research has policy implications. Our findings suggest that doctoral education provision does not sufficiently alter fit and thus cause student misfit. Doctoral programme administrators need to investigate ways of equipping doctoral students to manage their private environments and focus more attention on time management and project management support.


Anne Marie Ward is Professor of Accounting at Ulster University. Her research to date has centered on issues affecting non-profit financial institutions, including performance, development, management models, volunteering, subsidization, regulatory compliance, sector growth, gender leadership and the role of institutions and political elites. Anne Marie has over 80 publications, including four textbooks, chapters in textbooks, published case studies, technical publications for the profession, professional articles, research reports and peer reviewed academic articles. She has published across a wide range of journals including the Journal of Business, Finance and Accounting, the Journal of Business Ethics, Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, the British Accounting Review and Financial Accountability and Management.

1 November
Dual seminar:
1. Genesis of the double account system: A case study of the Independent Gas Light and Coke Company at the beginning of the 19th Century - Mitsunori Kasukabe (Hokkaido University)
2. A Study on Conceptual Framework about Quality Costing: Is there a trade-off relationship necessary? Masatoshi Kosugi (Hirosake University)


Genesis of the double account system: A case study of the Independent Gas Light and Coke Company at the beginning of the 19th Century - Mitsunori Kasukabe

The objective of this paper is to investigate the double account system employed in a UK gas company at the beginning of the 19th century. The double account system refers to a form of preparing accounts that emphasises an approach of distinguishing capital expenditure from revenue expenditure. The previous research on this system included the study of Edwards (1985), which focused on UK railway companies, in which he states that the accounts prepared for the first half of 1838 by the London and Birmingham Railway Company (LBR) is the earliest example of the adoption of the double account system. However, the Independent Gas Light and Coke Company (IGLC) prepared accounts using the double account system in 1824. This is more than 10 years before the example cited by Edwards. The accounts of the IGLC at that time can be seen as an attempt to distinguish capital expenditure from revenue expenditure. In addition, Edwards (1985) argued that the introduction of accrual basis accounting was essential to the establishment of the double account system, but a transition from cash basis accounting to accrual basis accounting is observed in the IGLC’s accounts.

A Study on Conceptual Framework about Quality Costing: Is there a trade-off relationship necessary? Masatoshi Kosugi

This study traces the history of the conceptual framework about Quality Costing. In the transition, the cost of quality greatly expanded the scope of application. Initially, local operation in the quality control department was a prerequisite. However, from the economic and social background, the importance of quality expanded. As a result, Quality Costing was to be applied company-wide and long-term. In this transition, the trade-off relationship included in the PAF approach clearly showed the cost-effectiveness of quality control activities. To show the cost-effectiveness of quality control activities is to recognize quality control activities at cost. Although the PAF approach can show the overall trend of the effect of quality control activities, it cannot demonstrate concrete quality improvement measures. The PAF approach, although useful for top management, is not effective at the field level. The process cost model, which appeared in the U.K. and where practical cases are also seen, may compensate for this drawback.

22 November
Effectiveness of government regulatory control at firm level: A contingency perspective of performance measurement
Minmin Xi (Coventry University London)


This paper explores the consequences of indirect government influences on the decision making of State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs). This indirect influence occurs through the mechanisms of governmental regulatory control of firms, including performance measures, directors, executives, and incentives, to maintain, increase, and maximize the value of state-owned assets. It has been proposed that firm value can be created by pursuing a customer-focused strategy and using non-financial performance measures. Grounded in contingency theory and using a survey sample of 247 senior managers in the Chinese manufacturing industry at the firm level, this paper examines the association of governmental regulatory control of firms with a customer satisfaction driven strategy, the (use of performance measurement system (PMS), and performance in order. The empirical evidence suggests that governmental regulatory control of firms explains the difference in outcome, where SOEs and non-SOEs use PMS to manage the strategic uncertainties of a strategy driven by customer satisfaction.


Minmin has a mixed background in both China and the UK for education and working experience. Her last education was at Cardiff for developing research skills through a project of ‘an exploratory study of effectiveness of performance measurement system in China’ and that has been her research focus. Grounding on contingency theory and using Chinese economy transformation context, she has examined and presented a way of how performance measurement systems use to be effective. Her further expectation is to explore institutional features of performance measurement systems ideographically and nomothetically. Her working experience has been accumulated through working at an international IT company Lenovo Beijing as a management accountant, and lecturing at Queens Belfast, West Scotland, and Coventry London.

Spring term 2017
26 April
Enacting the rhetorical potential of material objects through accounting: The Founder's Building at Royal Holloway
Christopher Napier (Royal Holloway, University of London)

Full title

Enacting the rhetorical potential of material objects through accounting: The Founder's Building at Royal Holloway, 1887-1897 - Co-author: Dr Elena Giovannoni


Drawing on archival material concerning Royal Holloway College in the early years after its foundation, we investigate how accounting can be used, in connection with physical objects, to enact the ‘rhetorical potential’ of these objects, that is, their potential to persuade and thereby to produce effects or affordances for action. In particular, we explore how, under evolving circumstances, Royal Holloway College’s main building was given different meanings by internal and external parties, as a palace, a public school, a charity school, a building on a ‘lower scale’ than similar colleges, and even as non-existent, providing different ‘rhetorical re‑presentations’. The invention of different accountings followed these re‑presentations, offered their own accounting rhetorics and stimulated new meanings, feeding back into the rhetorical re‑presentations. This cycle of invention facilitated various rhetorical uses of the building, which were intended to persuade both internal and external parties to ‘view’ the building in particular ways at different times, and thus to achieve specific material effects and affordances for action. We demonstrate that rhetorical potential emerges from the physical form and presence of an object, but, through being enabled for different purposes, rhetorical potential can transcend physicality. Also, we show that accounting rhetoric is not just a matter of visual technical signs but is also related to the way in which accounting re-presentations are able to enact the rhetorical potential of the objects that they re‑present.


Christopher Napier is Professor of Management at Royal Holloway, University of London.

2 May
Risk management in local authorities: an application of Schatzki’s social site ontology
Carolyn Cordery (Aston University)


The purpose of the study is to examine how risk management (RM) is organized and practiced within territorial local authorities (LAs). LAs operate in a complex and dynamic environment which gives rise to multiple and conflicting stakeholder demands. RM provides a potentially effective mechanism to handle these conflicts. We use Schatzki’s social site ontology to analyse RM practices organized by four elements: rules, understandings, teleo-affective structures and material arrangements.

We conducted in-depth interviews with managers across different levels, attended public meetings and analysed documents of two New Zealand LAs facing similar seismic events. The comparative analysis of data collected from these two LAs reveal that rules, understanding and teleo-affective structures interact with each other in constituting RM practices. While both LAs utilise similar RM rules, they vary significantly in organizing and managing risks, due to the ambiguities of the teleology and the differences in understandings.

These ambiguities and differences lead to the generation of two different RM (silo-based and collective-based) preferences and tendencies. This contextualizes the use of accounting controls to either legitimize the hierarchically allocated risk management tasks and processes or encourage discussions between people at different organizational levels to generate multiple interpretations on the meaning and management of risks. In these processes, accounting also helps generate and promote certain affections (feeling of mattering and fear of wrong decisions), which limits the functioning of systems and structures adopted by organizations for dealing with risks.

This study adds a constitutive and dynamic view to the contingent- and functionalist-theory based literature on risk management of organizations.


Carolyn Cordery joined Aston Business School in January 2017 from Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand. Her research focuses on not for profit organisations' accounting and accountability, including charities and sports clubs. She is particularly interested in how these organisations are resourced (by donors/philanthropists, grants, contracts, volunteers, etc.) and the resource constraints that cause many of these organisations to be financially vulnerable. Currently she is Joint Editor of Third Sector Review (the Journal of on Australia and New Zealand Third Sector Research), on the editorial board of Accounting History and Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal. She was a member of the New Zealand Accounting Standards Board from 2011-2016 and New Zealand’s Lotteries Community Sector Research Committee for a similar period. Professionally, she is a Fellow of both Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand and CPA Australia.

She has undertaken a number of commissioned research projects, and publish work in relevant leading international journals such as: Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal, Accounting History, Financial Accountability and Management, Accounting & Finance and Public Money and Management.  My paper ‘Accounting History and Religion: a review of studies and a research agenda’ (Accounting History, 20(4) pp 430-463) won the 2015 Robert W. Gibson Manuscript Award.