Accounting & Management Control Research Cluster

The Accounting & Management Control Research Cluster is home to an international community of academics and students, led by Professor Elaine Harris. The cluster meets regularly in Southlands College to discuss their wide-ranging research interests; from corporate governance to strategic investment decision-making to integrated reporting. Cluster members are regularly invited to speak about their research as part of the Accounting Group’s seminar series which also welcomes visiting academics. Members of the cluster publish in the internationally renowned journals including the Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, Management Accounting Research, Journal of Financial Services Research, International Review of Financial Analysis, The British Accounting Review, and Contemporary Accounting Research

The current research programme of the cluster includes

  • Accounting & Corporate Governance
  • Ethics
  • Corporate reporting, corporate culture, risk disclosure
  • Integrated Reporting
  • Management Control
  • Performance Management
  • Risk Management
  • Strategic Investment Decision-Making
  • Sustainability

Staff

PhD Students

  • Mahmoud Jastaniah (Supervisors: Prof. Busco, Dr. Malafronte, Dr. Elmassri)
  • Megan Kelly (Supervisors: Prof. Harris, Dr Howlett)
  • Tingting Song (Supervisors: Prof. Harris, Dr Malafronte)
  • Sendem Badam (Supervisors: Prof. Harris, Dr. Malafronte)
  • Chiharu Narikiyo (Supervisors: Prof. Harris, Dr Elmassri)

Research Highlights

Changing the thinking, policy, and practice in strategic investment decisions in organisations

Professor Harris' research changes the way business managers make strategic investment decisions in organisations. It draws upon psychology and social theory and shows how people can make more balanced investment decisions, by combining multi-dimensional analysis with managerial judgment. See for example the output of a project she led, funded by the ICAEW charitable trust. The report links financial and non-financial strategic goals and incorporates risk analysis and integrated thinking. The impact has been to change the thinking, policy and practice of organisational leaders, embracing wider critical success factors in their decision-making.

Elaine also chairs the Management Control Association, a network of researchers whose aim is to develop critical insights into control processes and to encourage research that recognises the organisational, personal and social contexts of control. In her book she defines management control as "all the systems and procedures established and action taken by managers to ensure that the organisational goals are met".

Transforming the design and implementation of reports, guidelines, practices and structures

Professor Busco's research has become pivotal, both nationally and internationally, in re-thinking and innovating corporate reports, accounting guidelines, management practices and governance structures. Published in top academic and professional journals Cristiano’s research transformed the design and implementation of reports, guidelines, practices and structures by making them visually appealing, methodologically engaging, mediated and performable.

Over the last decade, Professor Busco has been very active in the space of Sustainability and Integrated Thinking/Reporting, as well as researching how corporate purpose and sustainable strategies become embedded within business models in different organisations and industries. Several Conferences and Workshops have been organized Rome (2016, 2018 and 2019) and in New York (2017) with over 700 participants. During these events, a magazine called Annual Report Times offering a selection of interviews/short cases form companies all around the world was designed, printed and distributed (see http://www.annualreporttimes.com/magazine/2016/).

Cristiano’s engagement and impact build on his research that unlike conventional management practices, conceives accounting and reporting systems, and the governance of how quantitative data gets produced, as instruments to raise questions. By explicitly building tensions in the management team, the framework developed by Professor Busco facilitates scrutiny of highly risky and uncertain situations for which the right course of action cannot be defined a priori, allowing for mediation and pragmatic ways forward.

Chartered Institute of Management Accountants funds project to examine how companies in the UK are building resilience capabilities 

Given the current debate around Covid-19 and other emerging risks, such as technological disruptions and climate change, organisational resilience becomes paramount. Indeed, many sectors are now embracing resilience, as a new regulatory imperative (e.g. aviation, financial services), whilst others are still trying to figure out what it means for them. Dr Silva de Souza received a seedcorn grant of £7.5k by the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants to examine how companies in the UK are building resilience capabilities. This project will uncover to what extent resilience is embedded into UK companies current business models; how risk managers may create and preserve value through the enhancement of organisational resilience; which current key performance indicators (KPIs) and key risk indicators (KRIs) are/need to be in place to ensure resilience; and, how this information reaches the Board. This project will be conducted through a series of interviews and it will clarify the current challenges faced by Board members and risk professionals while trying to build communication channels and sustainable culture to enhance UK firm’s resilience. 

CIMA funded research on the role of corporate culture in the choice of integrated reporting

Dr Irma Malafronte is the principal investigator on a research project funded by the CIMA’s General Charitable Trust on the role of corporate culture in the choice of integrated reporting. Drawing on a number of interviews with IR preparers, and based on a hand-collected dataset of integrated reporting adopters, this study finds that corporate culture has a crucial role in the decision to prepare an integrated report. The study provides important insights to companies, practitioners, and policymakers. The research executive summary can be found here.

Irma is an active researcher in accounting and finance. She is working on a field of research exploring the evolution of corporate reporting, including sustainability reporting and integrated reporting. She is also working on research exploring bank-firm relationship, enforcement actions, market discipline and depositors’ awareness. Irma regularly presents her research at international conferences, and has published in international peer-reviewed journals such as The British Accounting Review, Journal of Financial Services Research, International Review of Financial Analysis.

Exploring reactions of the Egyptian family-owned businesses to a new western-based control system

Dr Elmassri in collaboration with Professor Harris is working on a research paper around business management and control practices in Egyptian family-owned businesses. They investigate how the managers in growing Egyptian family-owned businesses react to a new western-based control system, and how they re-define the facts, possibilities, values and communication dimensions of the system in their company setting. They explore the changes, e.g., in the decision-making process and how the company members reflect upon the fact that the company is still “family-owned” but no longer “family-managed”.

The authors analyse the similarities and differences in managers’ views through an innovative combination of 24 interviews and 75 questionnaire responses. The findings show that the attitudes to the new management control system, implemented by an Italian consulting firm are markedly different when compared to responses from directors with lower-level managers and family with non-family members. This is especially so in relation to questions about whether the new control system enables or enhances performance evaluation and about how it affects job fairness.

Our recent research-related successes

Prof. Busco published a research article titled 'A Preliminary Analysis of SASB Reporting: Disclosure Topics, Financial Relevance, and the Financial Intensity of ESG Materiality' in the Journal of Applied Corporate Finance. In the study of 91 companies, the authors have demonstrated that reporting according to SASB standards can be done well. This success should encourage other companies to follow and the authors offer a seven‐step process to adopt SASB standards.

Prof. Harris has been appointed as an Honorary Professor at Aston Business School, the University of the year 2020. Elaine has been organising the Annual Management Accounting Research Group (MARG) conference at Aston Business School for the last few years. The appointment is a reward for her theoretical, practical and policy contributions to the field of strategic investment decisions in organisations.

Dr Malafronte in collaboration with Professor Busco published a CIMA executive summary titled 'The role of corporate culture in the choice of integrated reporting.' This summary is based on a research study which investigated the role of corporate culture in a company’s choice of integrated reporting and in the level of integrated thinking within an organisation.