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


PhD Students

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

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.

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.

PhD student awarded a prestigious ICAEW internship

Megan Kelly, a first-year PhD student, has been working with ICAEW as a researcher in the technical strategy department over the summer 2019. As part of the Thought Leadership Programme, Megan is contributing to the Connect and Reflect series, which describes an approach to communications which will benefit all stakeholders and lead to operational changes which will support this development. The Connect and Reflect series consists of five papers to encourage a positive approach to corporate governance, ensuring that companies connect with and reflect society. The papers published in the series include how to end excessive pay; how employee directors add value and how whistleblowing helps companies. 

Megan is contributing to the fifth paper in the series; how to mark governance out of 10. With guidance, Megan is conducting a systematic review of corporate governance measurements, focusing on who is conducting the assessments, what elements of governance are considered and prioritised, and how the assessments are presented. Megan will then present this to the ICAEW Corporate Governance Committee, and again to the technical strategy team.  Megan is the first researcher to work with ICAEW in this way, as ICAEW expects to connect with academic researchers in other areas of the Thought Leadership Programme.

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

Professor Elaine Harris is taking the lead on one-to-one mentoring scheme for early career academics (researchers and university teachers) in collaboration with BAFA's Conference of Professors of Accounting and Finance 2020. Elaine seeks to match an early career academic (ECA) with an experienced and established senior academic (usually a professor) who acts as the mentor. The first step involves a short survey for ECAs and experienced members. The survey will close at midnight on 30 June 2020. She encourages both ECAs and experienced colleagues to engage with the survey and the scheme more generally. If you have any queries or questions please contact Elaine Harris (

Dr. Moataz Elmassri presented his paper titled 'Management Control Systems in a Family Business- A Pragmatic Constructivism Perspective' in the 9th Conference on Actor Reality Construction in Odense, Denmark 15-17th October 2019.

Professor Cristiano Busco and Professor Elaine Harris ran a joint conference of the MCA and ENROAC that was held at the University of Roehampton in June 2019 for over 100 international delegates, with more than 16 doctoral students participating in a colloquium and 2-day conference. 

Professor Cristiano Busco in collaboration with Dr. Malafronte published an article titled 'The Determinants of Companies' Levels of Integration: Does One Size Fit All?' in the British Accounting Review.

Make Sustainable Strategy Happen through Integrated Thinking: The Power and Limitations of Accounting and Reporting” is the title of last grant awarded to Professor Busco, which he will lead along with academics at the University of Southern California, in Los Angeles, during Spring 2020. Through this grant, Cristiano will be advancing the theoretical and practical implications of his research also in light of the ongoing and unfolding challenges faced by organizations in the private, public and non-profit sectors he is constantly engaging with.