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Business School - Research Office
Oxford Brookes Business School
Laura's research interests encompass aspects of governance and accountability in a broad range of organisations. She is particularly interested in using qualitative approaches to undertake research in corporate governance. Her published work includes a monograph and articles on the role of the audit committee in large UK companies and studies of the role of internal audit and the management of risk. Her work has received funding from the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Scotland, the British Academy and HM Treasury. Laura has recently completed a study of the Cadbury Committee which will be published by Oxford University Press during 2013.
Laura retains close links with the accountancy profession. Since 2004 she has been Research Relationships Adviser to the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW), bridging the gap between theory and practice by assisting technical staff to establish links with accounting academics and to use accounting research in their work. She is also a member of the ICAEW Research Advisory Board.. During 2004/5 she acted as academic adviser to the Financial Reporting Council Turnbull Review Group.
Laura was a founder member of the British Accounting Association Corporate Governance Special Interest Group. She is a former joint editor of the Journal of Applied Accounting Research and remains on the editorial board. Since 2006 she has been a member of ESRC Peer Review College.
This paper examines the processes by which individuals work their sense of organizational and professional identity in the aftermath of a professional failure. Drawing on twenty-five interviews carried out with former members of Arthur Andersen who mostly worked for the firm in Canada and the United Kingdom, we investigate interviewees" identity work ensuing from the breakdown of the firm. Specifically, identity work comprises processes by which individuals reflectively seek to maintain or revise their sense of identification with the AA organization and also with the public accounting profession, along with developing self-understandings regarding causes and consequences ensuing from the firm" s collapse. Our analysis indicates that four interpretive schemes or patterns mainly characterize interviewees" identity work: disillusion; resentfulness; rationalization; and hopefulness. Each of these patterns can be viewed as conveying a distinct representation of what -œtruly- happened within AA. In this sense, identity work, sense-making and truth contests are inextricably linked altogether. Moreover, the present paper underlines the pertinence of studying entangled processes of identity work and sense-making in order to better understand how broader social forces or discourses (e.g., commercialization and risk) are experienced and translated by the self in the context of identity-threatening events. That is, the identity work/sense-making nexus constitutes a relevant theoretical anchoring to study the circulation of discourses in society.
In this paper we explore the use of disclosure as a regulatory tool, using as an illustration the current UK requirements regarding the disclosure of information about internal control. After discussing the broad concept of regulation by disclosure, we trace the evolution of concepts of internal control and its reporting, describing the background to the Turnbull guidance for directors on internal control reporting, the basis of current UK requirements. We then examine recent examples of internal control disclosures, identifying the range of ways in which they address the disclosure requirements and considering the possible impact of the disclosure requirements on corporate behaviour and on the audiences for disclosure. We conclude with some reflections on the disclosure life cycle. The paper contributes to the literature on disclosure by specifically considering the role of disclosure as a regulatory tool and by examining the nature of specific disclosures in an area of continuing interest, that of internal control.
This paper aims to improve understanding of the construction of controllability boundaries surrounding the financial audit function, through a set of interviews with former members of Arthur Andersen reflecting upon the collapse of their firm. We focus on how members, in light of their firm" s downfall, assess the abilities of public accounting firms to control financial audit work and auditor behaviour (i.e., organizational controllability), and the abilities of outside, nonaccounting bodies to regulate financial auditing (i.e., regulatory controllability). The investigation is predicated on interviews with 25 former partners and employees of Arthur Andersen -” mostly in Canada and the United Kingdom. Our qualitative analysis indicates that a majority of interviewees adhere to the view that financial auditing can best be controlled through a network of bureaucratic and clan controls established within accounting firm organizations, without any direct involvement by regulators. A number of interviewees, though, consider that a reinforcement of outside regulation is necessary to discipline financial auditors. In spite of these differences, the vast majority of interviewees consider that financial auditing is controllable (through organizational or regulatory control), which is of interest, given their spatial and emotional proximity from the controversial collapse of their firm. Also, most participants do not see the professional association as a useful or relevant party in helping the professional accounting community maneuver in times of turmoil. The paper concludes with a discussion of important governance issues ensuing from our analysis.
Purpose - Why would a body seeking to represent its members as the prime advisers to business choose a domestic goddess for its main visual image? The paper aims to examine recent changes to the visual branding of a professional body by reference to its logo, and those of competing bodies, to illustrate the importance of visual communication in establishing professional reputation. The paper seels to trace the historical antecedents of the logo and analyse the relevance of its components to the body's current mission. Design/methodology/approach - A descriptive and historical analysis is followed by a discussion of alternative theoretical frameworks that might be used to draw conclusions about the significance of professional badges. Findings - Visual rebranding is expensive but may be unclear. Despite statements about modernisation and clarification, new badges can contain as many contradictory messages as old ones, which may be a result of inward facing viewpoints and competing internal forces within organisations, detracting from the clarity of the intended external message. Research limitations/implications - Money spent on rebranding may be wasted if the organisation does not have a clear view of its market position and how it might differentiate itself. Practical implications - Appeals to different philosophical schools may be successful in generating insights, but those insights still need to be validated. If they can be validated, in-depth knowledge of a body of writings may be unnecessary. Originality/value - Little previous work has examined the visual branding of professional bodies and discussed alternative approaches to analysis. The dialogue format makes the content more accessible.
After training as a chartered accountant with Peat Marwick Mitchell & Co (now KPMG) in London, Laura worked for the Oxford Regional Health Authority and then began teaching students for professional accountancy examinations at several local colleges. She joined Brookes in 1986 and undertook a variety of roles, including head of the accounting department for twelve years. In 2003 she became Professor of Corporate Governance.
Laura retains close links with the accountancy profession. Since 2004 she has been Research Relationships Adviser to the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW), bridging the gap between theory and practice by assisting technical staff to establish links with accounting academics and to use accounting research in their work. She is also a member of the ICAEW Research Advisory Board.
Laura was a founder member of the British Accounting Association Corporate Governance Special Interest Group. She is a former joint editor of the Journal of Applied Accounting Research and remains on the editorial board. From 2006 to 2014 she was a member of ESRC Peer Review College.
Laura's contribution to the academic accounting community was recognised in 2012 by a Lifetime Achievement Award from the British Accounting and Finance Association. She was awarded the title of Emeritus Professor on her retirement in 2014.