John Roberts

John Roberts
The University of Sydney

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41
Publications
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3,171
Citations

Publications

Publications (41)
Article
Purpose This paper proposes a research method for analysing talk about accounting concepts, systems and numbers. The authors argue that studying accounting talk in situ is a fruitful way to understand both the role accounting plays in the framing of relationships between individuals and the associated emotional content of these exchanges. As such,...
Article
The focus of this paper is on the challenges and potentials of ESG integration which are explored through a case study of the use of ESG data in investment analysis and decision making by an equity investment team. Whilst current regulatory efforts place faith in the development of common ESG disclosure standards to resolve ‘impediments’ to ESG int...
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Full-text available
The focus of this paper is on UK Code compliance and the contests and confusions that have surrounded its principle of ‘comply or explain’. In contrast to many agency theory‐informed studies, the paper suggests that visible compliance with the Code cannot itself be taken as a reliable proxy for board effectiveness. Instead, drawing upon Foucault's...
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This paper pursues the thought that the divide between ‘core’ and ‘periphery’ that Gendron and Rodrigue observe in the field of accounting research, is no more than a reflection or symptom of the more consequential divide that financial accounting enacts between the corporate entity and its social and natural environment. Through a distinction the...
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This paper takes as its starting point the claims of critics that fair value was an active participant in the dynamics of the financial crisis, and then sets out to explore this participation through drawing on the works of Saussure and Derrida. For Saussure, the relation between sign and referent is always ‘arbitrary’ and, as applied to accounting...
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This paper offers a supplement or qualification to earlier arguments for the potentials of 'intelligent accountability'. It explores the genesis and dynamics of its antithesis; a self-conscious choice by managers to focus exclusively on fulfilling, or being seen to fulfil, the demands of external transparency. Whilst 'decoupling' was originally con...
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This paper is developed around the set of design principles for executive compensation contracts as outlined in the study of Shan and Walter (2014). We propose guidance for determining an appropriate CEO starting compensation level based on past performance and the market for managerial talent. We also outline factors to be considered in determinin...
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This paper develops an analysis of corruption as the complement to processes of subjection. In this way the paper offers a way to make sense of how processes of inscription and audit which are designed to prevent corruption, nevertheless also continue to make corruption possible. The paper draws on both Foucault and Lacan's account of the formation...
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In 1985 I published a paper in Accounting Organizations and Society with Bob Scapens titled Accounting Systems and Systems of Accountability; understanding accounting practices in their organisational contexts. The paper suggested the potential usefulness of Anthony Giddens' structuration theory for efforts to understand accounting in its organisat...
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The comply-or-explain principle is a central element of most codes of corporate governance. Originally put forward by the Cadbury Committee in the UK as a practical means of establishing a code of corporate governance whilst avoiding an inflexible “one size fits all” approach, it has since been incorporated into code regimes around the world. Compa...
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Conventional economic theory, applied to information released by listed companies, equates ‘useful’ with ‘price-sensitive’. Stock exchange rules accordingly prohibit the selective, private communication of price-sensitive information. Yet, even in the absence of such communication, UK equity fund managers routinely meet privately with the s...
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This paper is an exploration of the potential place, if any, for ethics in corporate governance. It begins with the influential role that agency theory has played both in the conception and reform of corporate governance. Its grounding assumption of selfinterested opportunism leaves little or no room for ethics beyond what pays. This conception is...
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This paper draws upon the work of Lacan and Callon to interrogate and disrupt the foundational belief of neo classical economics in the rationality and autonomy of the individual. Lacan’s account of the ego’s foundation in the ‘imaginary’ explains how the self may be grasped as if it were indeed autonomous and rational, but also what is ‘fictional’...
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The current financial crisis has given rise to calls to toughen considerably the codes of corporate governance put in place in many countries to regulate corporate behaviour (e.g. the UK Combined Code). These codes vary slightly in form but tend to contain a mix of non-discretionary regulations and discretionary guidance and information. Almost all...
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This paper draws on the work of Butler [Butler, J. (2005). Giving an account of oneself. New York: Fordham University Press] to develop a critique of the operation and adequacy of transparency as a form of accountability. The paper begins with an exploration of accountability as subjection explored through Lacan's account of the social dynamics of...
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Taking as its starting point Alan Greenspan's 'shocked disbelief' in the failure of institutional self interest to prevent the credit crisis, this paper sets out to explore two related questions. How was self interest constructed in financial markets? And how might we account for its failure? Conceptually the paper draws upon Callon's (1998) analys...
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Full-text available
The comply-or-explain principle is a central element of most codes of corporate governance. Originally put forward by the Cadbury Committee in the UK as a practical means of establishing a code of corporate governance whilst avoiding an inflexible 'one size fits all' approach, it has since been incorporated into code regimes around the world. Despi...
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Government has been pressing one group in civil society - financial institutions - to regulate the behavior of another group - the companies in which they invest. We consider the implications of this and assess the prospects for success, drawing on evidence obtained in our recent study of the preparation, conduct and consequences of regular face to...
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We draw on a series of in-depth interviews with senior managers from institutional investors and large listed corporations to explore how different conceptualizations of institutional investors, their role in the corporate governance process, and their interactions with corporate management, are reflected in the accounts of the actors concerned. We...
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This article explores the nature and process of non-executive director (NED or non-executive) influence in quoted, family controlled firms (FCFs) through two company case studies in Singapore. Existing views of the non-executive role in such firms have been derived from theory, with traditional and ‘new’ agency approaches and resource dependence th...
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This paper draws upon empirical qualitative research with Finance Directors and Investor Relations managers to examine the disciplinary consequences of their meetings with institutional investors. These ‘private’ meetings have increased both in frequency and importance in the last decade, but, when compared to public disclosure, they are relatively...
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The focus of this article is on processes of social control and the role that images and processes of identification play in effecting such control. The article begins by schematically tracing the history of the new paradigm of control firstly within the managerial literature as a move ‘from control to commitment’, then through critical accounts of...
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This paper examines board effectiveness through an examination of the work and relationships of non-executive directors. It is based on 40 in-depth interviews with company directors, commissioned for the Higgs Review. The paper observes that research on corporate governance lacks understanding of the behavioural processes and effects of boards of d...
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Full-text available
Fund managers are the primary investment decision-makers in the stock market, and corporate executives are their primary sources of information. Meetings between the two are therefore central to stock market investment decisions but are surprisingly under-researched. There is little in the academic literature concerning their aims, content and outc...
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Governance indicators are now widely used as tools for conducting development dialogue, allocating external assistance and influencing foreign direct investment. This paper argues that available governance indicators are not suitable for these purposes as they do not conceptualize governance and fail to capture how citizens perceive the governance...
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Full-text available
We draw on a series of in-depth interviews with senior fund managers and senior company executives to explore how different and often-contradictory conceptualizations of institutional investors, their role in the corporate governance process, and their interactions with corporate management, are reflected in the attitudes and perceptions of the act...
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Full-text available
Despite a growing acknowledgement in the literature of the 'socially embedded' character of organizational knowledge, in this article we argue that conceptualizations of knowledge management have remained aloof from the agency that they seek to inform, particularly in relation to managing within physically dispersed organizations. We seek, therefor...
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Multinational corporations are faced with what has been called the ‘liability of foreignness’—a set of costs associated with, among other things, unfamiliar operating environments, economic, administrative and cultural differences, and with the challenges of coordination over geographic distance. In this article we draw on two case studies of multi...
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This paper develops a framework for differentiating between mere image and substance in corporate claims to social responsibility. The paper begins by drawing upon the work of Levinas to explore the nature of responsibility and ethical sensibility. It then explores four versions of corporate social responsibility (CSR): the conditions under which C...
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This paper explores an infrequently discussed methodological divide within qualitative research; that between conscious and unconscious accounts of organizational processes. The paper makes use of an empirical case study of problems encountered in the growth of a high-technology company. The conscious accounts of growth treat members of the firm as...
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This article addresses the critical issue of board effectiveness, and in particular the conditions under which chairmen as well as other non-executives can make an effective and positive contribution to the strategic direction and control of companies. It is informed by qualitative interview-based research with chairmen, chief executives and non-ex...
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This article reformulates the problem of corporate governance through a shift of analytic focus, away from the problems of securing the interests of remote owners, to an understanding of processes of accountability and their effects, both objective and subjective, within Anglo-American systems of corporate governance. In place of the essentialist a...
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This paper offers an extended critique of the proliferation of talk and writing of business ethics in recent years. Following Levinas, it is argued that the ground of ethics lies in our corporeal sensibility to proximate others. Such moral sensibility, however, is readily blunted by a narcissistic preoccupation with self and securing the perception...
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Abstract Research on corporate ,governance ,has focused mainly on investigating companies’ ,internal relations. Every company, however, has several contractual relations with external partners like customers or suppliers. This has prompted,Hambrick et al. (2008) to call for research on the mechanisms that govern external relations. Responding to th...

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