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Ethical Finance Accountability and Governance Seminar

Wednesday, 17 October 2018
12:30 to 16:30
Dr. Andrea Coulson and Emeritus Professor Rob Gray
Durham University Business School, MHL 240

Speaker 1: Dr. Andrea Coulson (University of Strathclyde) Click here

Speaker 2: Emeritus Professor Rob Gray (University of St. Andrews) Click here

Lunch: would be served at Fusion Restaurant between 12.30-1.15pm.

Speaking at 1:15 - 2:50 Dr. Andrea Coulson (University of Strathclyde)

Title of paper 1: The role of accounting in setting life-line tariffs for water kiosks:

a case study from peri-urban Blantyre, Malawi (co-authored with Dr. Sergio Fernández; Dr. Michael Rivett & Prof. Robert M. Kalin)


This paper provides empirical insights into the challenges of supplying domestic water to communities within low-income areas in peri-urban Blantyre, southern Malawi. Within this setting, a public water supply is provided to those without a domestic tap via local water kiosks managed by community-based Water User Associations.

Theoretically, there has been considerable debate around the tariff charged for water supplied to such vulnerable communities. Its determination is critical to ensuring lifeline access to a sustainable water supply system. The contribution of this paper is drawn from innovation in accounting for sustainability at a community level to help critique the calculative practice underlying the tariff calculation. In particular, the authors’ recognize the need for the co-production of calculative technologies and accounts created with Water User Associations and the communities they represent to ensure the importance of water is recognized and clean supply remains accessible.

Speaking at 2:50 -4:30pm Emeritus Professor Rob Gray (University of St. Andrews)

Title of paper 2:Through the past darkly: Revisiting context and assumption in accounting scholarship


As the conventions of “normal science” increasingly come to dominate accounting – as elsewhere – there is arguably a danger that scholars become increasingly tribal and lose sight of the “bigger picture” and, especially, of the context of and assumptions embedded in line of enquiry. Further, it does rather seem to be the case that one finds little in the current literature (or at conferences) of sectarian debate and struggle. Such struggles, often unpleasant at times, were nevertheless essential to the vibrant grounding of oneself as a scholar and an understanding of one’s discipline. Assuming these observations have some substance, this essay revisits the conventional moral (“public interest”) justification for the practice, teaching and research in accounting and (once again!) finds it sadly wanting. Where might this leave an accounting academic who does not have, does not wish to have or is untrained in exploring a political foundation to their work? The second half of the essay explores this question and – whilst deliberately and explicitly taking no high moral ground - speculates on some explanations as to why crucial issues are ignored and debate is not (cannot be) joined. The essay finishes with an assertion that we are poor scholars indeed if we cannot embrace, celebrate and teach cognitive dissonance.