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Oxford Brookes Business School
+44 (0) 1865 485955
CLC.2.27, Clerici Building, Headington Campus
Sam is a senior researcher and lecturer.
Sam is currently teaching on the following modules:
Corporate Social Responsibility (MSc programmes)
Finance and Accounting Research Project (MSC Programmes)
Accounting and Finance for Managers (MBA)
Sam currently supervises 6 PhD students across a range of topics including corporate social responsibility (CSR) reporting and corporate governance . She would welcome potential applications on CSR and CSR reporting, stakeholder theory, management and practice. Recent PhD completions include:
Karen Dennis, Value Drivers within SMEs: Growth and Value Creation within the Context of the Economic Value Added® Framework (2013)
Kate Ringham, Corporate Responsibility Reporting in the Foodservice Sector in the UK: A Critical Realist Perspective (2015)
Cathy Burgess, What are the key factors in impact on the ability of unit-based middle-managers to contribute to corporate entrepreneurship? (2015)
Sam has also examined a number of PHD students at UK and International Universities.
She is a stakeholder theorists and an accounting researcher with research interests in how these two areas overlap as well as in corporate social responsibility in general. Sam has published widely in the field of stakeholder theory and corporate social responsibility in a range of journals such as the Journal of Management Studies, Journal of Business Ethics, The British Accounting Review, Journal of Business Finance and Accounting, Business Strategy and the Environment, The Accounting Forum, Journal of Communication Management and Eco-Management and Auditing. She is co-author of the widely cited text Stakeholders: Theory and Practice (Oxford University Press). She has recently contributed to three texts on stakeholder theory including, The Handbook of Stakeholder Theory (Cambridge University Press) and Stakeholder Theory (Emerald).
Current research projects include exploring the boundary of CSR reporting,the extent to which stakeholder theory has been adopted within the accounting field, and stakeholder engagement within marketing.
Research Cluster: Critical Perspectives on Accounting, Social Responsibility and Governance
Sam leads the Critical Perspectives on Accounting, Social Responsibility and Governance research cluster. This group questions how financial, environmental and social accountability is achieved. Exploring solutions to accounting and accountability issues fit for the challenges of the modern environment, this cluster explores alternative theoretical and practical perspectives. The research cluster is interested in the impact across a range of stakeholder groups and for a range of organisations beyond the corporate sector, including charities and not for profit organisations in the third sector
£7,000, Evaluation of the Better Business Pack: An Environmental Initiative aimed at SMEs (WWF) with A.L. Friedman (University of Bristol)
£10,854 Corporate Social Reporting and Ethical Investment (ACCA), with A.L. Friedman (University of Bristol)
£37,496 2nd Stage: Evaluation of the Better Business Pack (WWF), with A.L. Friedman (University of Bristol)
Current projects include:
Relationship Management and Stakeholder Theory, with K. Ringham
The Boundary of Corporate Social Responsibility Reporting: evidence from the airline industry, with Ringham, K
Accounting and Stakeholder Theory
A Review of Stakeholder Theory
Purpose. The aim of this paper is to use a multidisciplinary theoretical understanding of boundary settingto develop a quadripartite model in which sustainability reporting boundaries are classified as ‘Reputation Management’, ‘Ownership and Control’, ‘Accountability; and, ‘Stakeholder Engagement’. Content analysis is then used to empirically test the model. Design/approach. Using impression management theory, rationalism, systems and contingency theory, and network theory a model is created which classifies sustainability reporting boundaries. Content analysis is used to empirically test boundaries across the disclosure of 49 GRItopics by the FTSE100. Findings. Sustainability reporting fails to discharge accountability due to adoption of narrow ‘Reputation Management’ boundaries. Boundaries are significantly (p<0.0001) narrower than previous research suggests. Findings support Impression Management Theory as the strongest theory to predict reporting content. An Ownership and Control boundary, although widely criticised, represents the boundary of progressive reporters, lending marginal support for economic theories. Accountability boundaries are scarce. No evidence was found for Stakeholder Engagement boundaries. Practical Implications. The determination of boundary is critical to the discharge of accountability. A critical consideration of boundary setting is required, including authentic stakeholder engagement in determining boundaries and transparency of boundary adopted. The results are ranked to enable benchmarking of the FTSE100. Boundaries can be widened through regulation or ‘name and shame campaigns’. Originality/value. This paper provides a theory-informed advancement in thinking on sustainability reporting boundary setting and the importance of this for advancing sustainability reporting quality.
Stakeholder theory is widely accepted but elementary aspects remain indeterminate as the term ‘stakeholder’ is an essentially contested concept (Miles, J Bus Ethics 108:285–298, 2012; Mitchell, Organ Stud 33:1407–1411, 2012), being variously describable, internally complex and open in character (Gallie, Proc Aristot Soc 56:167–198, 1956). Such contestability is highly problematic for theory development and empirical testing. The extent of essential contestability, previously unknown, is demonstrated in this paper through a bounded systematic review of 593 different stakeholder theory definitions. As an essentially contested concept, the solution does not lie in a universal stakeholder definition, but in debating the boundaries of stakeholder identification. To this end, this paper presents the first major attempt at sorting, filtering and ordering stakeholder theory and stakeholder definitions to produce a comprehensive, multi-dimensional classification of stakeholder theory. The constructs of the classification model juxtapose existing stakeholder theories and contributions from across the multicontextual applications of stakeholder theory, thereby providing an invaluable overview of what we know about stakeholder theory in one model. The classification model is then tested with positive results. The paper concludes with a comprehensive discussion of the implications of classification stakeholder theory definitions, which has for future research
This paper examines the usefulness of stakeholder theory as a practical tool to assist in the termination of a manufacturing plant.
This project uses action research to address the gap between management research in stakeholder theory and practice, using a UK based case study of a plant closure situation.
The strategic stakeholder management tools suggested to management have real practical applications and benefits, including the identification of further stakeholder sub-groups leading to enhanced management cognition, better risk management and the development of strategies more focused on the local requirements of the closing plant.
Given the current nature of manufacturing plants and the present economic climate, this research should assist similar organisations during future closure or downsizing programs by providing a real-time case example.
This paper aims to contribute to both the practical concerns of management in the immediate problematic situation of a UK manufacturing plant undergoing closure, and to the stakeholder literature by exploring the application of stakeholder theory within a new, un-researched context of plant closure.
This research has been carried out in a small UK automotive components plant. All closure situations are complex and unique and require a specific understanding of the focal organisation. However it should be possible to derive general recommendations to assist with future plant closures. The data and subsequent analysis is predominantly firm-centric. Further research could also examine stakeholder data and analysis from the stakeholder's perspective.
The concept of the ‘stakeholder’ has become central to business, yet there is no common consensus as to what the concept of a stakeholder means, with hundreds of different published definitions suggested. Whilst every concept is liable to be contested, for stakeholder research, this is problematic for both theoretical and empirical analysis. This article explores whether this lack of consensus is conceptual confusion, which would benefit from further debate to try to reach a higher degree of elucidation, or whether the stakeholder concept is essentially contested, rendering the quest to seek a singular definition unfeasible. The theory of essentially contested concepts was proposed by Gallie (Proc Aristot Soc 56:167–198, 1956). The seven criteria Gallie prescribes for evaluating essentially contested concepts are applied to the stakeholder concept. The analysis suggests that this concept is an essentially contested concept and this explains the degree of definitional variation.
Previous literature has led to a lack of appreciation of: the range of organization/stakeholder relations that can occur; the extent to which such relations change over time; as well as how and why such changes occur. In particular, extremely negative and highly conflicting relations between organizations and stakeholders have been ignored. Due to this lack of appreciation it is argued that current attempts at integrating the separate strands of stakeholder theory to achieve a convergent stakeholder theory are premature. A model is presented which combines stakeholder theory with a realist theory of social change and differentiation. This model is intended to highlight why it is important to distinguish different stakeholders. The model also enables an analysis of the organization/stakeholder relationship, which is not exclusively from the organization perspective and which is capable of illuminating why and how organization/stakeholder relations change over time. The history of Greenpeace is used as an example.
This exploratory study examines the relations between corporate social and environmental reporting (CSR) and the socially responsible investment (SRI) sector. The evidence presented, based upon the informed opinions of 14 experts within the SRI field, suggests that the field of CSR is on the verge of a major change towards a substantial and sustained improvement in quality and quantity. The SRI sector is undergoing radical changes. A wider social movement has already led to exponential growth, as more people become concerned with how their money is invested. Moreover, the Pensions Review has widened this concern to institutional investment. Representing 35% of the stock market, the potential impact of this regulation is anticipated to be significant. One possible outcome could be a marked increase in the size and power of the SRI sector, improving their ability to successfully influence corporate behaviour. Success is likely to increase further as corporations begin to see a business case, as well as, or as opposed to a moral case, for acting in a more responsible manner. The Turnbull report on the combined codes of corporate governance is a significant factor influencing this. For the first time, reputational risk, and hence how companies manage environmental, ethical and social reputations, is on the core corporate governance agenda. A more powerful outcome would be an increased interest from mainstream fund managers in SRI modes of corporate assessment. Preliminary evidence suggests that this will create a greater demand for CSR, and greater legitimacy of CSR within the accounting orthodoxy.
Corporate Social Responsibility