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Durham University

Research & business

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Prof Carol Adams, BA MSc PhD CA FAICD

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Professor of Accounting in the Business School
Telephone: +44 (0) 191 33 45425
Room number: MHL347

Contact Prof Carol Adams (email at


Professor Carol Adams MSc PhD CA FAICD is an internationally recognised researcher in corporate accounting and reporting and its role in the relationships between business, society and the environment. Her research has been published in Accounting Organizations and Society, Accounting Auditing and Accountability Journal, British Accounting Review, European Accounting Review, Accounting and Business Research, Critical Perspectives on Accounting, Abacus, Sustainability Accounting Management and Policy Journal, Financial Accountability and Management, Accounting Forum, Business Strategy and Environment

Carol’s work has accrued approx.15,000 citations and her Google Scholar H Index is 45. Her 2002 and 2004 sole authored articles are the 8th and 11th most cited articles in the Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal where she has four of the top 40 cited papers published in the journal’s 30 year history. She also has the 2nd most cited article in the British Accounting Review; the 6th most cited article in Critical Perspectives in Accounting; the 5th most cited article in Accounting Forum; and, the 5th and 7th most cited articles in the Sustainability Accounting Management and Policy Journal 

Carol has received research funding from the Australian Research Council, ESRC, UNCTAD-ISAR and several international professional accounting bodies. 

Carol is founding editor and Editor-in-Chief of the Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal which she established to promote research that addresses practice and policy issues capable of improving the relationships between accounting, organisations and sustainable development. 

Carol has sought to advance practice and policy with respect to integrating sustainability considerations into organisations through applied research, leadership, standard setting, advisory work and educating the next generation of business leaders for over two decades. She has authored several industry/professional reports, has made submissions to numerous public consultations and writes on her website at Carol is technical expert to the UNDP's SDG Impact Team contributing to the development of SDG Impact Standards. She consults to multinational corporations and other organisations on corporate reporting and integrating sustainability into business practices. Recent assignments have included work with Royal Bank of Scotland, Cbus Superannuation Fund and Baillie Gifford. Carol has led the development of award winning sustainability reports, management and governance processes. Carol is immediate past Chair of the Stakeholder Council of the Global Reporting Initiative, and a current member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland’s (ICAS) Sustainability Committee, the ACCA Global Forum on Sustainability and the Climate Disclosure Standards Board’s Technical Working Group. She was a member of the International Integrated Reporting Council’s Capitals Technical Collaboration Group.

Carol has a financial audit background with KPMG and qualified as a Chartered Accountant with ICAS. She holds an MSc in Accounting and Finance from the London School of Economics and a PhD in International Corporate Reporting from the University of Glasgow. She has held senior management positions in Universities including as Head of School, Faculty Acting Dean and Pro Vice-Chancellor and has previously held Professor of Accounting positions at Monash University and the University of Glasgow. She has served on a number of Boards in the finance, education and not-for-profit sectors. She has also served as a member of the Sustainability Advisory Board for Fuji Xerox Australia and Sustainability Leadership Advisor to the Commonwealth Education Trust. She is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (FAICD). She is an Honorary Research Fellow at Leuphana Universität Lüneburg.


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Mini Biography

Professor Carol Adams MSc PhD CA FAICD is an internationally recognised researcher in corporate accounting and reporting and its role in the relationships between business, society and the environment. She is founding editor and Editor-in-Chief of the Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal.

Research Groups

Business School

Research Interests

  • Sustainable Development Goals
  • Corporate reporting
  • Integrated reporting
  • Sustainability reporting
  • Integrating sustainability into corporate practices

Indicators of Esteem

  • Chair, GRI Stakeholder Council:
  • Fellow, Australian Institute of Company Directors:
  • Founding Editor, Editor-in-Chief, Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal:
  • Member, Global Sustainability Forum, ACCA:
  • Member, Sustainability Panel, ICAS:
  • Technical Expert, UNDP SDG Impact Team:
  • Winner: Best First Time report, ACCA Sustainability Reporting Awards 2011: Led the team that developed the report as PVC (Sustainability) at La Trobe University

Selected Publications

Authored book

  • Adams, C.A. (2015). Understanding Integrated Reporting: A concise guide to integrated thinking and the future of corporate reporting. Do Sustainability.
  • Gray, R., Adams, C.A. & Owen, D. (2014). Accounting, Social Responsibility and Sustainability: Accounting for Society and the Planet. Pearson.
  • Adams, C.A. & Frost, G. (2004). The Development of Corporate Web-Sites and implications for Ethical, Social and Environmental Reporting through these Media. Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS).
  • Gray, R.H., Owen, D.L. & Adams, C.A. (2003). Accounting and Accountability: Changes and Challenges in Corporate Social and Environmental Reporting. Hakuto-shobo Publishing Company: Tokyo.
  • Gray, R.H., Owen, D.L & Adams, C.A. (1996). Accounting and Accountability: Changes and Challenges in Corporate Social and Environmental Reporting. Prentice Hall International: New Jersey.
  • Adams, C.A., Hill, W.Y. & Roberts, C.B. (1995). Environmental, Employee and Ethical Reporting in Europe. Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA): London.
  • Adams, C.A., Weetman, P. & Gray, S.J. (1993). Issues in International Accounting Harmonisation: the Significance of UK/US Accounting Differences and Implications for the IASC's Comparability Project. Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA): London.

Chapter in book

  • Adams, C, , Hoque, Z. & McNicholas, P. (2018). Case studies and action research. In Methodological issues in accounting research. Hoque, Z. Spiramus.
  • Rob, G, Adams, C & Owen D (2018). Social and Environmental Accounting and the Critical Accounting Project(s): In search of creative tension? In The Routledge Companion of Critical Accounting. Roslender, R. London: Routledge. 241-257.
  • Gray, R.H Owen, D. & Adams, C.A. (2010). Some theory for social accounting? A review essay and a tentative pedagogic categorisation of theorisations around social accounting. In Civil Economy, Democracy, Transparency and Social and Environmental Accounting Research Role. Baldarelli, M-G. McGraw-Hill: Rome.
  • Gray, R., Owen, D. & Adams, C. (2009). Some theories for social accounting?: A review essay and a tentative pedagogic categorisation of theorisations around social accounting. In Sustainability, Environmental Performance and Disclosures. Freedman, Martin & Jaggi, Bikki Bingley: Emerald. 4: 1-54.
  • Adams, C.A. & Narayaran, V.A. (2007). The standardisation of sustainability reporting. In Sustainability Accounting and Accountability. Unerman, J., O'Dwyer, B. & Bebbington, J. Routledge: Oxford.
  • Adams, C.A., Hoque, Z. & McNicholas, P. (2006). Case studies and action research. In Methodological Issues in Accounting Research: Theories and Methods. Hoque, Z. Spiramus Press: Biggleswade. 361-373.
  • Adams, C.A. & Zutshi, A. (2005). Corporate disclosure and auditing. In Ethical Consumer. Harrison, R., Newholm, T. & Shaw, D. Sage: Thousand Oaks. 207-217.
  • Guthrie, J. & Adams, C.A. (2005). Social and environmental reporting. In Environmental Management and Decision-Making for Business. Staib, R. Palgrave Macmillan: Basingstoke. 159-165.
  • Weetman, P., Jones, E., Adams, C.A. & Gray, S.J. (2004). Measurement in UK accounting standards: a case of increasing disharmony in relation to US GAAP and IASs. In Developments in International Accounting: International Harmonization of Accounting. Nobes, C.W. Edward Elgar Publishing: Cheltenham.
  • Adams, C.A., Weetman, P., Jones, E. & Fray, S.J. (2004). Reducing the burden of US GAAP reconciliations by foreign companies listed in the US: the key question of materiality. In Developments in International Accounting: General Issues and Classification. Nobes, C.W. Edward Elgar Publishing.
  • Adams, C.A., Frost, G. & Webber, W. (2004). Triple bottom line reporting: a review of the literature. In The Triple Bottom Line: Does it all Add Up?. Henriques, A. & Richardson, J. Earthscan. 17-25.
  • Adams, C.A., Frost, G. & Gray, S.J. (2003). Corporate environmental and social reporting. In International Finance and Accounting Handbook. Choi, F.D.S. John Wiley: Oxford. Chapter 23.
  • Gray, R.H., Owen, D.L. & Adams, C.A. (2001). What is social accounting? In Earthscan Reader in Business and Sustainable Development. Starkey, R. & Welford, R. Earthscan: London. 122-125.
  • Roberts, C.B., Gray, S.J. & Adams, C.A. (1997). Corporate social and non-financial disclosures. In Handbook of International Accounting and Finance. Choi, F.D.S. & Mueller, G. John Wiley: Oxford.
  • Adams, C.A. (1996). The IASC's comparability project: will it bridge the divide between UK and US GAAP? In Readings in International Accounting. Blake, J. & Hossain, M. International Thomson Business Press: London. 111-117.
  • Adams, C.A. & Roberts, C.B. (1994). The International Accounting Standards Committee (IASC): a role playing case to determine the possible future agenda for the IASC. In International Accounting: A Case Approach. Schweikart, J., Gray, S.J. & Roberts, C.B. McGraw Hill: London. 138-145.

Edited book

  • Adams, C.A. & Roberts, C.B. (1996). Financial Reporting By Multinationals. Library o International Accounting Series (Series Editor CW Nobes). Edward Elgar Publishing: Cheltenham.

Journal Article

Newspaper/Magazine Article

  • Adams, C A. (2021). A prototype climate disclosure standard with a flawed conceptual framework. Responsible Investor
  • Adams, C A. (2020). Accountants can help meet the Sustainable Development Goals. CIMA Insights
  • Adams, C A. (2020). Europe needs mandatory non-financial reporting to underpin COVID recovery. EURACTIV
  • Adams Carol, (2020). Investors are asking the wrong questions on sustainability. Financial Times
  • Adams, C A. (2020). Neurodiversity at work benefits everyone – why companies are hiring autistic people. The Conversation
  • Adams, C A. & Cho, C H. (2020). Sustainable development is too important for political posturing. Responsible Investor
  • Adams, C (2018). How does responsible investing fit with the SDGs? ESG Magazine
  • Adams, C (2018). Non execs need the right skills for effective integrated reporting. Board Agenda
  • Adams, C (2016). How Integrated Reporting can help boards understand ESG risk: lessons from South Africa and Australia.
  • Adams, C (2015). The evolution of corporate reporting. Communication Director
  • Adams, C. (2015). VW Scandal: ethics versus profit. Economia
  • Adams, C.A. & Weldin, K. (2014). What is sustainability reporting? And what has it got to do with the CFO?. CFO India (November-December 2014): 68-69.
  • Adams, C.A. (2011). Sustainability comes first. Mining Chronicle (August.).
  • Adams, C.A. (2011). Sustainability reporting key to long-term viability. Keeping Good Companies 63(9): 569-570.
  • Adams, C.A., Burritt, R. & Frost, G. (2008). Environmental management. Financial Management (September.): 43-44.
  • Adams, C.A. & Frost, G. (2006). CSR Reporting. Financial Management (June.): 34-36.
  • Adams, C.A. (2005). The ethical, social and environmental reporting portrayal gap. The Corporate Citizen 5(1): 13-16
  • Adams, C.A. (2004). Triple bottom line reporting. The Big Picture: How the Environmental Influences Corporate Profit 47.
  • Zutshi, A. & Adams, C.A. (2004). Voluntary guidelines: are they enough to sustain the environment?. Alternative Law Journal 29(1): 23-26.
  • Adams, C.A. (2001). Better environmental reporting is the key. European Chemical News, Responsible Care Supplement (April): 24-25.
  • Adams, C.A. (2001). Green fingers. Financial Management (April): 42.
  • Adams, C.A. (2000). [Opinion article on accountability] Help firms to open up. Times Higher Education 3rd(November): 18.
  • Adams, C.A. (2000). Ethical Reporting: past and future. Management Accounting 78(2): 48-50.
  • Adams, C.A. & Laing, Y. (2000). How to research a company. Social and Environmental Accounting 20(2): 6-11.
  • Adams, C.A. (2000). Responsible Care in changing times. AccountAbility Quarterly 14: 24.
  • Adams, C.A. (2000). The extent of stakeholder engagement and AA1000. AccountAbility Quarterly 12: 24-25.
  • Adams, C. (2000). The ISEA professional qualification. AccountAbility Quarterly: innovation, learning and performance 12: 2-3.
  • Adams, C.A. (1999). Greater accountability: a role for AA1000. AccountAbility Quarterly: innovation, learning and performance 11: 5-6.
  • Adams, C.A. (1999). Reporting on equal opportunities: could do better. Accounting and Business (members supplement) September: 14-15.
  • Adams, C.A., Hill, W.Y. & Roberts, C.B. (1995). Social and environmental reporting in Europe. Social and Environmental Accounting 15(1): 2-3.
  • Adams, C.A., Ironside, C. & Milner, M.M. (1994). Improving teaching and learning at the University of Glasgow through the use of computers. Account 6(3): 32-34.


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Media Contacts

Available for media contact about:

  • Business matters: SDGs, integrated reporting, sustainability reporting
  • Business ethics:


Teaching Groups

Teaching Areas

  • Contemporary Issues in Accounting, MSc Accounting

    (12 hours/year.)
  • Corporate Reporting, MSc Accounting

    (4 hours/year.)