Professor Laura Spira

Emeritus Professor

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 the use of qualitative approaches to undertake research in corporate governance. Her work has received funding from the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Scotland, the British Academy and HM Treasury.

Laura’s publications include monographs and articles on audit committees, internal audit and the management of risk, and reporting on internal control. Her work appears in a variety of international journals including the highly ranked Accounting, Organizations and Society, and Contemporary Accounting Research. In 2013, Oxford University Press published her history of the work of the Cadbury Committee on corporate governance. She has recently contributed a chapter entitled “Board composition and decision-making: who makes the decisions?” to the Elgar Research Handbook on Corporate Board Decision Making.  


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Professional information


Invited Presentations

  • Member of plenary panel session “'Can Corporate Governance Keep Up with the 21st Century?' BAFA conference, Birmingham, April 2019
  • Invited presentation “Every company board should include a dog” at ICAEW workshop, “Post-Brexit-the need for a more inclusive approach to UK corporate governance?” May 2018
  • Member of panel on “Governance - where are we, how well are we doing, what should we do next? “ PARC members event, March 2018
  • “Corporate Governance and Management - a Blurred Boundary?”, invited presentation, 34th Annual Management Accounting Research Group conference, London School of Economics, April 2013
  • “Be careful what you wish for: the consequences of mandating board composition”, inaugural lecture, University of Greenwich, October 2012
  • “Is a picture worth a thousand words? Visualising corporate governance and strategy ” (with Michael Page) Brunel Business School Accounting Symposium, July 2011
  • “Can Non-Executive Directors Make a Difference? A Historical Perspective”, invited panel presentation, 10th European Corporate Governance Conference (Guberna), Brussels, Dec 2010
  • “Can non executive directors make a difference? A historical perspective”, invited keynote address, joint conference on 'Governance and Accountability in Financial Services', Centre for Global Finance, the Bristol Centre for Leadership and Organizational Ethics and the Foundation for Governance Research and Education, Bristol Business School, March 2010
  • “The Cadbury Committee: a First View” (with Judy Slinn), invited presentation, Corporate Governance Symposium, Judge Business School, Cambridge, June 2009
  • Panel member, ICAEW symposium on future of corporate governance research, European Accounting Association Congress, Lisbon, May 2007
  • 'Black Holes, Red Herrings and Elephant Powder: perspectives on the audit committee”   invited presentation, Centre for Analysis of Risk and Regulation at the London School of Economics, November 2006
  • “Audit Committees: Thoughts on Best Practice”, invited presentation, HEFCE Governors conference, London, September 2006
  • ‘Risk Management and Internal Control Disclosures’(with Michael Page), invited presentation, Department of Trade and Industry conference on corporate governance, London, September 2005
  • ‘The Turnbull Report, Internal Control and Risk Management: the Developing Role of Internal Audit’, (with Michael Page)  Invited presentation, IACON, London, March 2005
  • ‘Black Holes, Red Herrings and Elephant Powder: a sceptical look at the audit committee", paper at conference on Corporate Governance of Financial Institutions, Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, University of London, October 2004
  • ‘The Role of the Audit Committee: the gap between expectations and reality’, Invited Keynote Address at Second European Conference on Corporate Governance, Brussels, Nov 2002

Further details

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 and she was awarded the title of Emeritus Professor on her retirement in 2014.

Laura retains close links with the accountancy profession, working to bridge the gap between theory and practice. For ten years she acted as Research Relationships Adviser to the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW), assisting technical staff to establish links with accounting academics and to use accounting research in their work. She was 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 has been closely involved for many years with the British Accounting and Finance  Association (BAFA), serving on several sub-group committees and helping to run research methods workshops. She continues to support early career researchers through the BAFA mentoring scheme. Her contribution to the academic accounting community was recognised in 2012 by a BAFA Lifetime Achievement Award.