Professor Robert Scapens PhD, MA(Econ), FCA

Professor Robert Scapens

The Department of Accounting
Professor of Accounting

Contact details

Department of Accounting and Finance
Birmingham Business School
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Professor Robert (Bob) Scapens is a part-time Professor of Accounting in the Birmingham Business School, where his primary role is to support the research activities of members of the Department. He is also an Emeritus Professor at the Alliance Manchester Business School. He was a co-founder of Management Accounting Research and was the Editor-in-Chief for twenty-five years. His research is primarily in the area of management accounting, and he has taught and written extensively on case study research methods.

ORC Profile


  • PhD, Manchester (1979)
  • MA (Econ), Manchester (1972)
  • Chartered Accountant (ACA 1968, FCA 1978)


After qualifying as a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales and then working as an audit senior with one of the firms which is now part of Ernst & Young, Professor Scapens changed his direction when he obtained a PD Leake Teaching Fellowship at the University of Manchester in 1970, where he subsequently obtained his Master’s Degree and PhD. Initially his research was in financial accounting, but since the early 1980s his research has primarily been in the field of management accounting, and he is now recognised as a leading international scholar in the field.

His early research in both financial and management accounting used quantitative techniques, but since the mid-1980s he has used primarily qualitative research methods. Currently he teaches courses on qualitative research methods and methodology, and he has written books and articles on the subject. He has also published extensively in both academic and practitioner journals. Over the years his research has focused on processes of management accounting change, the role of the management accountant in modern organisations and performance management in global organisations.

Until 2014 he was the Editor-in-Chief of Management Accounting Research, which he founded with Professor Michael Bromwich in 1990. He has been a part-time professor in Birmingham since 2013, although he taught case study research methods in Birmingham for some years before that. He is also an Emeritus Professor at the Alliance Manchester Business School, where his role is similar to that in Birmingham. For twenty years until 2017 he was also a part-time professor in the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. In recent years he has held visiting positions at the University of Lund in Sweden, University of Jyväskylä in Finland, and the University of Siena in Italy.

He has received honorary doctorates from both the University of Lund in Sweden and the University of Vaasa in Finland. He has also received a Distinguished Academic Award from the British Accounting Association, and a Commendation from the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants for his contributions to the management accounting profession.

Over the years Professor Scapens has taught a wide range of courses at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, particularly in management accounting and research methodology. More recently, he has been teaching various courses on case study and qualitative research methods for PhD students in various fields of the social sciences in Birmingham, Manchester and a number of other universities in European countries.

He has successfully supervised over 30 PhD students as well as numerous master’s students.

Other activities

Professor Scapens has been a member of various professional committees of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants and the Chartered Institute of Accountants in England and Wales.


Recent publications


Rautiainen, A, Scapens, B, Järvenpää, M, Auvinen, T & Sajasalo, P 2024, 'Towards fluid role identity of management accountants: A case study of a Finnish bank', The British Accounting Review.

Chai, SH, Nicholson, B, Scapens, B & Yang, C 2023, 'Digital Platforms, Surveillance and Processes of Demoralization', Journal of Information Technology.

Scapens, B 2022, 'Personal reflections on the relevance of accounting research', Journal of Pragmatic Constructivism, vol. 12, no. 1, pp. 34-44. <>

Rozenfeld, G & Scapens, R 2021, 'Forming mixed-type inter-organisational relationships in Sub-Saharan Africa: The role of institutional logics, social identities and institutionally embedded agency', Critical Perspectives on Accounting, vol. 78, 102232.

ter Bogt, H & Scapens, R 2019, 'Institutions, situated rationality and agency in management accounting: a research note extending the Burns and Scapens framework', Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal, vol. 32, no. 6, pp. 1801-1825.

Varoutsa, E & Scapens, R 2018, 'Trust and Control in Evolving Inter-organisational Relationships: Evidence from the Aerospace Industry', Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal, vol. 31, no. 1, pp. 112-140.

Chiwamit, P, Modell, S & Scapens, R 2017, 'Regulation and adaptation of management accounting innovations: The case of economic value added in Thai state-owned enterprises', Management Accounting Research, vol. 37, pp. 30-48.

Bromwich, M & Scapens, R 2016, 'Management Accounting Research: 25 Years On', Management Accounting Research, vol. 31, pp. 1-9.

Taylor, L & Scapens, R 2016, 'The role of identity and image in shaping management accounting change', Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal, vol. 29, no. 6, pp. 1075-1099.

van der Meer-Kooistra, J & Scapens, R 2015, 'Governing product co-development projects: the role of minimal structures', Management Accounting Research, vol. 28, pp. 68-91.

Busco, C, Caglio, A & Scapens, R 2015, 'Management and accounting innovations: reflecting on what they are and why they are adopted', Journal of Management and Governance, vol. 19, no. 3, pp. 495-524.

Varoutsa, E & Scapens, R 2015, 'The governance of inter-organisational relationships during different supply chain maturity phases', Industrial Marketing Management, vol. 46, no. 1, pp. 68-82.


van der Meer-Kooistra, J & Scapens, R 2018, The governance of collaborative product development. in M Carlsson-Wall, H Håkansson, K Kraus, J Lind & T Strömsten (eds), Accounting, Innovation and Inter-Organisational Relationships. 1st edn, Routledge Studies in Accounting, Routledge.

Commissioned report

Jones, J & Scapens, B 2020, Finance Business Partnering: Design principles to orchestrate value. CIMA Research Executive Summary, vol. 16, 4 edn. <>

Quattrone, P, Busco, C, Scapens, R & Giovannoni, E 2016, Dealing with the Unknown: Leading in uncertain times by rethinking the design of management accounting and reporting systems. CIMA Academic Research Paper, vol. 12, Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, London. <>

View all publications in research portal